Dietary supplementation with zinc oxide decreases expression of the stem cell factor in the small intestine of weanling pigs. Academic Article uri icon


  • Dietary supplementation with a high level of zinc oxide (ZnO) has been shown to reduce the incidence of diarrhea in weanling pigs, but the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. Intestinal-mucosal mast cells, whose maturation and proliferation is under the control of the stem cell factor (SCF), play an important role in the etiology of diarrhea by releasing histamine. The present study was conducted to test the novel hypothesis that supplementing ZnO to the diet for weanling piglets may inhibit SCF expression in the small intestine, thereby reducing the number of mast cells, histamine release, and diarrhea. In Experiment 1, 32 piglets (28 days of age) were weaned and fed diets containing 100 or 3000 mg zinc/kg (as ZnO) for 10 days (16 piglets per group). In Experiment 2, two groups of 28-day-old piglets (8 piglets per group) were fed the 100- or 3000-mg zinc/kg diet as in Experiment 1, except that they were pair-fed the same amounts of feed. Supplementation with a high level of ZnO reduced the incidence of diarrhea in weanling piglets. Dietary Zn supplementation reduced expression of the SCF gene at both mRNA and protein levels, the number of mast cells in the mucosa and submucosa of the small intestine and histamine release from mucosal mast cells. Collectively, our results indicate that dietary supplementation with ZnO inhibits SCF expression in the small intestine, leading to reductions in the number of mast cells and histamine release. These findings may have important implications for the prevention of weaning-associated diarrhea in piglets.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr Biochem

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Ou, D., Li, D., Cao, Y., Li, X., Yin, J., Qiao, S., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 78

complete list of authors

  • Ou, Deyuan||Li, Defa||Cao, Yunhe||Li, Xilong||Yin, Jingdong||Qiao, Shiyan||Wu, Guoyao

publication date

  • December 2007