Nutrition, Health, and Neuroscience Laboratory

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Piglet Nutrition & Cognition Research

Follow us on Twitter: @Illinois_PNCL

Created as a high-throughput facility to artificially-rear newborn piglets and conduct behavioral testing, this unique infrastructure is designed to investigate how early-life nutrition influences growth and development of the brain. With an experienced facility coordinator and capacity to raise 48 newborn piglets simultaneously, PNCL offers collaborative opportunities to use the piglet as a pre-clinical model in biomedical research. A dedicated behavioral suite, seperate from the piglet rearing room, permits sensitive testing of eyeblink conditioning and novelty preference paradigms. A custom-designed automated feeding system ensures precise delivery of dietary treatments to individual subjects. Home-cage video provides 24/7 monitoring of piglet behavior, allowing for characterization of sleep and activity patterns. This research area is focused on studying the interaction of early-life nutrition on development of a stable microbiota, immunity, and gut and brain function.


Nutrition & Neurodevelopment Publications:
  1. Mudd AT, Berding K, Wang M, Donovan SM, Dilger RN. Serum cortisol mediates the relationship between fecal Ruminococcus and brain N-acetylaspartate in the young pig. Gut Microbes. August 2017. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2017.1353849.
  2. Mudd AT, Alexander LS, Waworuntu RV, Berg BM, Donovan SM, Dilger RN. What is in milk? How nutrition influences the developing brain. Front for Young Minds. May 2017, 16. doi: 10.3389/frym.2017.00016.
  3. Mudd AT, Dilger RN. Early-life nutrition and neurodevelopment: Use of the piglet as a translational model. Advances in Nutrition. January 2017, 8, 92-104. doi: 10.3945/an.116.013243.
  4. Fleming SA, Dilger RN. Young pigs exhibit differential exploratory behavior during novelty preference tasks in response to age, sex, and delay. Behavioural Brain Research. March 2017, 321, 50-60. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.12.027
  5. Mudd AT, Alexander LS, Johnson SK, Getty CM, Malysheva OV, Caudill MA, Dilger RN. Perinatal dietary choline deficiency in sows influences concentrations of choline metabolites, fatty acids, and amino acids in milk throughout lactation. J. Nutr. Oct 2016. doi:10.3945/jn.116.238832
  6. Jacob RM, Mudd AT, Alexander LS, Lai CS, and Dilger RN. Comparison of brain development in sow-reared and artificially reared piglets. Front. Pediatr. July 2016. 4:95. doi:10.3389/fped.2016.00095
  7. Mudd AT, Salcedo J, Alexander LS, Johnson SK, Getty CM, Chichlowski M, Berg BM, Barile D, and Dilger RN. Porcine milk oligosaccharides and sialic acid concentrations vary throughout lactation. Front. Nutr. July 2016. 3:39. doi:10.3389/fnut.2016.00039
  8. Mudd AT, Waworuntu RV, Berg BM, Dilger RN. Dietary alpha-lipoic acid alters piglet neurodevelopment. Front. Pediatr. May 2016. 4:44. doi:10.3389/fped.2016.00044.
  9. Berding K, Wang M, Monaco MH, Alexander LS, Mudd AT, Chichlowski M, Waworuntu R, Berg B, Miller MJ, Dilger RN, Donovan SM. Prebiotics and bioactive milk fractions affect gut development, microbiota, and neurotransmitter
    expression in piglets
    . J of Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. March 2016. doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000001200
  10. Mudd AT, Alexander LS, Berding K, Waworuntu RV, Berg BM, Donovan SM and Dilger RN. Dietary prebiotics, milk fat globule membrane and lactoferrin affects structural neurodevelopment in the young piglet. Front. Pediatr. Jan 2016. 4:4. doi: 10.3389/fped.2016.00004
  11. Getty CM, Almeida FN, Baratta AA, Dilger RN. Plasma metabolomics indicates metabolic perturbations in low birth weight piglets supplemented with arginine. J Anim Sci. Dec 2015; 93(12):5754-63. doi: 10.2527/jas.2015-9293. doi:10.1179/1476830515Y.0000000031.
  12. Mudd AT, Getty CM, Sutton BP, Dilger RN. Perinatal choline deficiency delays brain development and alters metabolite concentrations in the young pig. Nutr Neurosci. Jun 2015. doi:10.1179/1476830515Y.0000000031
  13. Getty CM, Dilger RN. Moderate Perinatal Choline Deficiency Elicits Altered Physiology and Metabolomic Profiles in the Piglet. PLoS One. Jul 2015. 10(7):e0133500. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133500. 
  14. Liu H, Radlowski EC, Conrad MS, Li Y, Dilger RN, Johnson RW. Early supplementation of phospholipids and gangliosides affects brain and cognitive development in neonatal piglets. J Nutr. Dec 2014. 144(12):1903-9. doi:10.3945/jn.114.199828.
  15. Conrad MS, Sutton BP, Dilger RN, Johnson RW. An in vivo three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging-based averaged brain collection of the neonatal piglet (Sus scrofa). PLoS One. Sep 2014. 9(9):e107650. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107650.
  16. Radlowski EC, Conrad MS, Lezmi S, Dilger RN, Sutton B, Larsen R, Johnson RW. A neonatal piglet model for investigating brain and cognitive development in small for gestational age human infants. PLoS One. Mar 2014. 9(3):e91951. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091951.
  17. Rytych JL, Elmore MR, Burton MD, Conrad MS, Donovan SM, Dilger RN, Johnson RW. Early life iron deficiency impairs spatial cognition in neonatal piglets. J Nutr. Nov 2012. 142(11):2050-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.165522.
  18. Elmore MR, Dilger RN, Johnson RW. Place and direction learning in a spatial T-maze task by neonatal piglets. Anim Cogn. Jul 2012. 15(4):667-76. doi:10.1007/s10071-012-0495-9.
  19. Conrad MS, Dilger RN, Nickolls A, Johnson RW. Magnetic resonance imaging of the neonatal piglet brain. Pediatr Res. Feb 2012. 71(2):179-84. doi:10.1038/pr.2011.21.
  20. Conrad MS, Dilger RN, Johnson RW. Brain growth of the domestic pig (Sus scrofa) from 2 to 24 weeks of age: a longitudinal MRI study. Dev Neurosci. 2012. 34(4):291-8. doi: 10.1159/000339311.
  21. Dilger RN, Johnson RW. Behavioral assessment of cognitive function using a translational neonatal piglet model. Brain Behav Immun. Oct 2010 .24(7):1156-65. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2010.05.008.
Conference Presentations:
  1. Mudd AT, Fleming SA, Chichlowski M, Berg BM, Donovan SM, Dilger RN. Dietary sialyllactose influences diffusion tensor imaging measures in the corpus callosum of the young pig. European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Annual Meeting. Prague 2017.
  2. Mudd AT, Waworuntu RV, Berg BM, Donovan SM, Dilger RN. The relationship between serum triacylglycerol eicosanoic acid and hippocampal myo-inositol is mediated by hippocampal phosphatidylcholine stearic acid in the young pig. European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Annual Meeting. Prague 2017.
  3. Fleming SA, Monaikul S, Patsavas A, Waworunto RV, Berg BM, Dilger RN. Polydextrose and galactooligosaccharide fed early in life increases exploratory behavior and recognition memory in the neonatal piglet. Experimental Biology. Chicago 2017.
  4. Mudd AT, Waworuntu RV, Berg BM, Donovan SM, Dilger RN. Hippocampal phosphatidylcholine 18:0 mediates the relationship between serum triacylglycerol 20:0 and hippocampal myo-inositol in the young pig. Experimental Biology. Chicago 2017.
  5. Mudd AT, Fleming SA, Chichlowski M, Berg BM, Donovan SM, Dilger RN. Dietary sialyllactose influences magnetic resonance imaging outcomes in the piglet corpus callosum. Experimental Biology. Chicago 2017.
  6. Fleming SA, Dilger RN. Young pigs exhibit differential exploratory behavior during novelty preference tasks in response to age, sex, and delay. Society for Neuroscience. San Diego. November 2016
  7. Mudd AT, Waworuntu RV, Berg BM, Dilger RN. Dietary alpha-lipoic acid impacts brain development of the young pig. Experimental Biology. San Diego. April 2016.
  8. Mudd AT, Johnson SK, Alexander LS, Getty CM, Malysheva OV, Caudill MA, Dilger RN. Effects of choline deficiency on composition of sow's milk. Experimental Biology. San Diego. April 2016.
  9. Mudd AT, Boele HK, Koekkoek SKE, Dilger RN. Development of an eyeblink conditioning paradigm in young pigs. Society for Neuroscience. Chicago. Oct 2015.
  10. Mudd AT, Alexander LS, Waworuntu R, Berg BM, Donovan SM, Dilger RN. Hippocampal metabolites correlate with neuroimaging outcomes in the piglet. Experimental Biology. Boston. April 2015.
  11. Jacob RM, Mudd AT, Conrad MS, Lai CS, Dilger RN. Impact of the dietary lipid matrix on neurodevelopmental patterns of the piglet. Experimental Biology. Boston. April 2015.
  12. Getty CM, Dilger RN. Biochemical and metabolomic effects of perinatal choline deficiency in the piglet. Experimental Biology. Boston. April 2013.
  13. Getty CM, Baratta AA, Alexander LS, Dilger RN. Metabolic profiling of the small for gestational age piglet. Experimental Biology. Boston. April 2013.