Research team

Comparative Perinatal Development (CoPeD)

Expertise

Histological techniques, anatomical preparations and raising neonatal/juvenile piglets – feed research.

Development of a guidance document for improving zebrafish welfare in laboratory animal facilities. 01/09/2020 - 31/08/2022

Abstract

About 10-15% of all animals used as laboratory animals in Flanders are fish. While the assessment of animal welfare is well established for mammals, the optimal conditions for guaranteeing fish welfare are less known or documented. A formal framework for optimizing and monitoring zebrafish welfare does currently not exist. This project therefore aims to develop a guidance document providing scientific and practical instructions for improving zebrafish welfare in laboratory animal facilities. The guidance document will be relevant to animal caretakers, technicians, responsible scientists, members of ethical committees, and animal welfare inspectors.

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INTRODUCTION AND OPTIMIZATION OF NOVEL REARDING STRATEGIES TO OBTAIN MORE RESILIENT PIGS 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

The modern Flemish pig breeding farms face important technical and economic challenges: perinatal piglet mortality is high, rearing the increasing numbers of large litters (>20 piglets/litter) is a major challenge, and the abrupt weaning of pigs causes a decline in performance and an increase in the susceptibility to infections. Consistent with these problems, there is an extremely high prophylactic antibiotic use. Together with the pork industry, we want to give impetus to address these challenges. This project aims to introduce and optimize innovative concepts in piglet rearing in order to raise more resilient piglets in a profitable way. 'Resilience' is defined as the ability of the animal to restore its homeostasis if it is disturbed under normal physiological conditions. The innovative concepts we will optimize and introduce in the pig breeding farms are: 1 / interventions at the neonatal big: split-suckling, drenching of bioactive substances, and 2 / interventions to prepare for the process of weaning: multi-suckling with foraging. Split-suckling involves splitting up the litter into smaller groups which alternately get the chance to suckle colostrum and milk. Up to now there is much discussion on which criteria are best used for making the groups and what the optimal timing of the suckling periods is. Bioactive substances (antioxidants, bovine colostrum or whey protein concentrates, and oligosaccharides) can be administered via booster preparations, or enclosed in artificial milk and creep feed. Which bioactive substances will result in more resilient pigs in a profitable way is the main focus of this UAntwerpen PhD. The concept of multi-suckling involves opening the farrowing crates at a certain age of the piglets. This allows the piglets to interact and to suckle also other sows in order to maximize feed intake. The different rearing strategies that will be optimized in this project are relatively easy to implement in existing breeding systems in Flanders and do not require large investments. Nevertheless, we want to optimize the knowledge on the effects on performance, resilience of these concepts and make an inventory of the labor costs these concepts request. Knowing the effects (short and long term) on performance and resilience will facilitate introducing the concepts into the pig farms and reduce the prophylactic use of antimicrobials.

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Histomorphological analysis of intestinal samples of pigs and chicken 20/07/2019 - 01/10/2019

Abstract

Histological sections of the different intestinal samples will be stained histochemically and using image analysis villus length, crypt depth, crypt width and the number of goblet cells will be determined. Pictures will be taken from the different regions. All data will be analyzed in UGent.

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Validation of the piglet as animal model for deficient motor development : the paradigm of locomotion. 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

Advances in antenatal medicine and neonatal intensive care have resulted in improved survival of human infants born with a low birth weight and at the limits of viability, but not in the reductions of motor deficits. Locomotor skills are essential for participation in all daily activities and therefore are paradigmatic for insights in motor development in general. Longitudinal experimental designs studying locomotion are needed to elucidate the contributions of intra-uterine growth restricted development of the musculoskeletal and the nervous system onto the motor deficits. Such fundamental longitudinal experiments are ethically controversial in human infants, necessitating appropriate animal models for research. In modern sows, piglets born with a low birth weight and low viability frequently occur. These piglets show characteristics of underdevelopment similar as those seen in human infants with a low birth weight and viability. This, together with their high physiological resemblance, makes the pig an ideal model to study the development of growth-impaired locomotion. This project characterizes and compares the longitudinal development of locomotion in the normal and low birth weight piglet. To this purpose we make use of 4D-morphology, dynamic mechanical modelling and functional morphological analyses (cfr. the concept of neuromechanics). This requires the technological development of rapid 3D dual energy tomography (including soft tissue reconstructions) integrated in the existing 3D²YMOX-platform (biplane X-ray). Differences in both coordination and control will be linked to changes at the level of the musculoskeletal, as well as the neurological components of the locomotor system.

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3D Dynamical Morphology by Biplane high speed Xray-videography. 26/06/2014 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Hercules Foundation. UA provides the Hercules Foundation research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Optimisation of the redox status for improved intestinal health in intra-uterine growth-retarded pigs. 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

This project represents a research agreement between the UA and on the onther hand IWT. UA provides IWT research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Francqui Chair 2010-2011 Prof. Poul Hyttel. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

Proposed by the University, the Francqui Foundation each year awards two Francqui Chairs at the UAntwerp. These are intended to enable the invitation of a professor from another Belgian University or from abroad for a series of ten lessons. The Francqui Foundation pays the fee for these ten lessons directly to the holder of a Francqui Chair.

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How plastic is the enteric nervous system in IUGR piglets? 01/08/2010 - 31/05/2011

Abstract

Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) impairs gut growth. This study examines the relation between IUGR and a possibly compromised enteric nervous system. The latter could contribute to the lower growth rates observed in IUGR.

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Neuropathy and neuroplasticity of the enteric nervous system playing a part in the ethiopathogenesis of necrotizing enterocolitis in the preterm piglet and neonatal rat. 01/07/2009 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

Approximately 10% of the low birth weight infants develop necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Symptoms of NEC such as abnormal intestinal motility, permeability and blood flow can be linked to a neuropathy of the enteric nervous system (ENS). In the preterm piglet and neonatal rat, in vivo and in vitro experiments will be used to challenge the hypothesis that a neuropathy of the ENS plays a role in the ethiopathogenesis of NEC.

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Supplementing the immunoglobulin-free fraction of bovine colostral whey to the suckling piglet: effect on growth performances, intestinal physiology and morphology. 01/05/2009 - 30/04/2013

Abstract

Optimizing growth and health during the suckling period of piglets with impaired growth is an economic challenge and relevant for improving animal welfare. This projects investigates which subfractions of immunoglobulin-free bovine colostral whey could promote growth and health in suckling piglets by studying key-structures and functions in the small intestine both in vivo and in vitro at the macro- (nutritional and growth effects) and micro-level (effects on intestinal morphology and physiological parameters).

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Supplementing the immunoglobulin-free fraction of bovine colostral whey to the suckling piglet: impact on growth performances, intestinal physiology and morphology. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

Optimizing growth and health during the suckling period of piglets with impaired growth is an economic and ethical challenge. This projects investigates the immunoglobulin-free fraction of bovine colostral whey and: 1/ describes the effects on macro- (nutritional and growth effects) and micro leve' (relevant morphological and functional gastrointestinal parameters) of bio-active substances present. 2/ points out which parts can be held responsible for the observed effects. 3/ creates a method (model) for estimating the efficacy of food compounds regarding growth in function of the effects on intestinal physiology and morphology

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In vivo and in vitro effects of colostrum and milk replacer on the enteric nervous system of the preterm piglet. 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

Feeding human milk, when compared with formulated milk, results in a better growth and maturation of the gastrointestinal tract. These beneficial effects can be attributed, at least in part to the unique composition of human milk. Topic of this study will be to investigate to what extent these beneficial effects are mediated by a modulation of the morphology of the enteric nervous system in an in vivo and in vitro pig model.

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The premature piglet, an animal model to study the role of factors contributing to the development and treatment of necrotizing enterocolitis. 01/01/2004 - 31/12/2007

Abstract

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) afflicts 7-10% of the premature babies and has a mortality rate of 20-40%. NEC occurs in premature piglets being fed a milk replacer. This project aims to describe the morphology and functional characteristics of this animal model. By manipulating the availability of arginine and NO, we aim to find clues for the cause of NEC.

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The premature piglet, an animal model to study the role of factors contributing to the development and treatment of necrotizing enterocolitis. 01/10/2003 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) afflicts 7-10% of the premature babies and has a mortality rate of 20-40%. NEC occurs in premature piglets being fed a milk replacer. This project aims to describe the morphology and functional characteristics of this animal model. By manipulating the availability of arginine and NO, we aim to find clues for the cause of NEC.

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01/10/2003 - 31/12/2003

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01/01/2003 - 31/12/2004

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01/07/2002 - 31/10/2004

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01/10/1995 - 30/09/1996

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