The first line of defense – what is it and why is it important?
The gut barrier is part of the innate immune system and makes up the first line of defense. Supporting the gut barrier of piglets is highly important as a breakdown of this can lead to leaky gut and impaired performance.
The mucus layer, which covers the luminal side of the intestinal epithelium, serves several purposes, such as protection against pathogens and as a reservoir for antibodies and antimicrobial compounds. This helps to isolate and kill pathogens.
As the immune system of the newborn piglet is underdeveloped, the piglets are heavily dependent on antibodies supplied from colostrum and milk. These antibodies provide the first source of immune protection.