Evaluating a Premature Piglet Model to Assess the Nutritional Needs of the Human Neonate

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


The Ohio State University

Research Projects

Organizational Units

Journal Issue


Research suggests that the premature neonate is unable to make use of necessary enteral nutrition due to an immature gastro-intestinal tract. Therefore, a more in-depth understanding of total parenteral nutrition is required. Currently, the effects of specific nutrients on the development of the small intestine of the premature infant remain largely unknown. In response to this lack of knowledge, the main objective of this project was to evaluate the effects of increased arachidonic (AA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acid supplementation in total parenteral nutrition (TPN) on the pre-term gastro-intestinal tract. The hypothesis was that AA and DHA supplementation would lead to an increase in mucosal surface area of the small intestine supporting supplementation of AA and DHA as vital components of pre-term infant formulas for proper development of digestive function, which is essential for the wellbeing of the newborn. Piglets were collected by caesarean section at 106 d of gestation and equipped with an arterial umbilical catheter for TPN delivery, as well as maintained in a heat and humidity controlled incubator for 7 d. Piglets were fed one of three diets: a control diet, a low DHA: AA diet (0.3and 0.69% of total fatty acids as DHA and AA, respectively) and a high DHA: AA diet (6 and 14% of total fatty acids as DHA and AA, respectively). In the first trial, premature piglets displayed symptoms of feed intolerance and failed to survive, while in the second trial only premature piglets receiving control TPN reached equivalent full-term age. In response, piglets were removed by cesarean section at 114 d of gestation and administered the same dietary regimens as premature pigs. Three piglets were viable for tissue collection. Histological slides of the jejunum and ileum are currently being examined for changes in crypt depth and villous height among the different treatments.


3rd place in the category of nutrition in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences undergraduate research forum


Nutrition, Pigs, Arachidonic Acid, Docosahexaenoic Acid