Dietary zinc (inorganic and organic or zinc AA complex forms) is essential for normal intestinal barrier function and regeneration of intestinal epithelium. Given that heat stress (HS) exposure can negatively affect intestinal integrity and caloric intake, possible nutritional mitigation strategies are needed to improve health, performance, and wellbeing. Therefore, our objective was to evaluate 2 dietary zinc sources and reduced caloric intake on intestinal integrity in growing pigs subjected to 12 h of HS. A total of 36 pigs were fed 1 of 2 diets: 1) a control diet (CON; 120 mg/kg of zinc from zinc sulfate) or 2) 60 mg/kg from zinc sulfate and 60 mg/ kg from zinc AA complex (ZnAA). After 17 d, the CON pigs were then exposed to thermal neutral (TN) conditions with ad libitum intake (TN-CON), HS (37°C) with ad libitum intake (HS-CON), or pairfed to HS intake under TN conditions (PFTN); the ZnAA pigs were exposed to only HS (HS-ZnAA). All pigs were sacrificed after 12 h of environmental exposure, and blood and tissue bioenergetics stress markers and ex vivo ileum and colon integrity were assessed. Compared with TN-CON, HS significantly (P < 0.05) increased rectal temperatures and respiration rates. Ileum villus and crypt morphology was reduced by both pair-feeding and HS. Both PFTN and HS-CON pigs also had reduced ileum integrity (dextran flux and transepithelial resistance) compared with the TN-CON pigs. However, ZnAA tended to mitigate the HS-induced changes in ileum integrity. Ileum mucin 2 protein abundance was increased due to HS and pair-feeding. Colonic integrity did not differ due to HS or PFTN treatments. Compared with the HS-CON, HS-ZnAA pigs tended to have reduced blood endotoxin concentrations. In conclusion, HS and reduced feed intake compromised intestinal integrity in pigs, and zinc AA complex source mitigates some of these negative effects.
- Heat stress
- Intestinal integrity