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Levamisole Stimulates Immunity to E. coli in Weaned Pigs

13 May 2014

New research from Croatia indicates that levamisole - a medication usually used for de-worming animals - can help prevent diarrhoea caused by enterotoxigenic E.coli in weaned piglets.

With the growing knowledge of the porcine immune system and its endogenous modulation, it has been clearly stated that exogenous modulation through the use of substances able to modulate immune functions represents an important prophylactic/therapeutic approach in prevention/treatment of both stress- and F4+ and F18+ enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC)-induced infections accompanied weaning.

The aim of this study by Hrvoje Valpotic of the University of Zagreb and co-authors from Croatia was to evaluate the effectiveness of levamisole (2.5mg  per kg bodyweight in 10mL) applied per os to weaned pigs in proliferation of circulating and intestinal immune cell subsets throughout a period of five weeks. Their paper in published in Canadian Journal of Animal Science.

Changes in proportion or number of peripheral blood and ileal mucosal leukocytes tested were studied either weekly by flow cytometry or at the end of the experiment (day 35) by immunohistology/histomorphometry, respectively.

Pigs treated with levamisole had increased proportions of peripheral blood CD45+ lymphoid cells, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and CD21+ B cells (P<0.01) between days 14 and 35 following the treatment.

Furthermore, levamisole stimulated the proliferation of CD45RA+ naïve lymphoid cells in interfollicular (P<0.001) and follicular areas (P<0.05) of ileal Peyer’s patches at day 35 of the experiment. These pigs had a significantly higher (P<0.05) average body weight (19.7 versus 17.1kg) and weight gain at the end of experiment compared with the control pigs (for 15 per cent).

Valpotic and co-authors that levamisole stimulated the proliferation of circulating and intestinal lymphoid cell subsets tested and improved performance in weaned pigs, and thus, the drug may nonspecifically enhance their immunity/resistance to F4+ and F18+ ETEC strains.


Valpotic H., M. Speranda, A. Kovsca-Janjatovic, M. Didara, G. Lackovic, F. Bozic, B. Habrun, S. Srecec, M. Matausic-Pisl and I. Valpotic. 2014. Levamisole stimulates proliferation of circulating and intestinal immune cell subsets, gut health and performance in weaned pigs. Canadian Journal of Animal Science. 94(1):43-53, 10.4141/cjas2013-097

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.
Find out more about E. coli scouring in pigs by clicking here.

May 2014

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