Effects of CLA on Piglet Health Studied

SLOVENIA - Malovrh of the University Medical Centre Ljubljana and co-authors from other institutes in the same city have investigated the role of conjugated linoleic acid on the immune system of the pig, as a model for humans, publishing the paper in the latest Lipids in Health and Disease. There were some changes in the liver, and temporary effects on the piglets' immune systems.
calendar icon 24 June 2009
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In their introduction, Malovrh and colleagues explain that conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) are naturally occurring fatty acids found in dairy products and the meat of ruminants, and that CLA isomers are formed in the rumen of ruminants as intermediates in the hydrogenation of linoleic acid to vaccenic acid.

They continue that CLA has diverse influences on the immune response in different experimental models.

In the present study, they investigated the effect of CLA feeding on inflammatory and immune responses in a piglet model by looking at the duration of this effect and possible detrimental effects of CLA feeding. After 12 weeks of CLA and control supplementation and wash-out, animals were sacrificed and parenchymal organs were histologically examined.


In activated peripheral mononuclear cells interferon-gamma was significantly (p=0.008) lower in the CLA group by the end of the feeding period. This effect disappeared as soon as supplementation stopped.

No differences were found in the tumour necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-10 production, serum immunoglobulin-G levels and fat infiltration of the liver, except that fat storage cell infiltration was significantly (p<0.04) higher in the CLA-fed group.

The effect of time for interferon-gamma, interleukin-10 and immunoglobulin-G levels was statistically significant.


At the end of the feeding period, the interferon-gamma response was depressed.

The researchers added that the maturation of the piglet immune system in our young pig model probably outweighs the impact of CLA feeding on the immune response, even though liver fat storage cell infiltration – which plays an important role in liver regeneration – increased during CLA feeding of the piglets.


Malovrh T., L. Kompan, P. Juntes, B. Wraber, A. Spindler-Vesel and D. Kompan. 2009. Influence of conjugated linoleic acid on the porcine immune response and morbidity: a randomized controlled trial. Lipids in Health and Disease 2009, 8:22. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-8-22

Further Reading

- You can view the provisional PDF version of the full report by clicking here.
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