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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

Breeding for better cardiovascular and respiratory function of pigs - “A heart for pigs”

Alternative title: Avl for bedre sirkulatorisk and respiratorisk funksjon hos gris - "Med hjerte for grisen"

Awarded: NOK 4.4 mill.

In this project we are going to investigate the circulatory and respiratory function in pigs. There is a growing concern that the cardiovascular and respiratory capacity is not good enough to cope with stress, and that this could be the reason why some animals suddenly dies, e.g. on transportation between the farm and slaughterhouse. We will start this project by identifying new traits characterizing heart and lung capacity in pigs, that can easily be measured, i.e. blood O2 saturation, and that could easily be implemented in our data collection. Further, a longitudinal study at SEARCH (NMBU, Sandnes) will be conducted, and we will investigate how the heart and lungs evolve when the pig grows. In this part of the project, we will use advanced medical imaging techniques and measure every third week, using a case control study. We will use the knowledge from this study to devlop protocols and traits that could be measured in an applied setting in a commercial farm. Finally, we aim to combine these data with mortatlity data from our commercial market, to be able to select robust animals with good respiratory and circulatory capacity.

There is a growing concern that the cardiovascular and respiratory capacity in pigs may lead to increased risk of sudden death in swine production worldwide. However, the role of genetics in cardiovascular and respiratory performance has not been fully examined, and there is an inquisitiveness how the heart develops in the growing pigs. In this project we will examine whether cardiac remodeling occurs in growing pigs, how the transition into a diseased state evolves, and to find the genetics underlying cardiovascular and respiratory disease in pigs. More research is needed to observe, identity and measure these traits to find if there is a genetic potential to breed for an increased cardiovascular and respiratory capacity. In a designed longitudinal experiment, we want to examine and test cardiovascular performance in pigs by creating a shunt in the heart’s main vessels in a case group of pigs and compare them to a control group. The shunt will be created at SEARCH by trained cardiologist and medical doctors. The experiment will be conducted during the growth phase of pigs to understand the development of pigs circulatory and respiratory function in the case and control group. By quantifying the heart function, both in control and case individuals, we want to develop robust descriptors of the circulatory state in pigs during growth. Pigs will be computed tomography (CT) scanned regularly during the longitudinal experiment to examine the traits by radiological and non-invasive measures. The methods and results from the longitudinal experiment will be applied in a second commercial experiment, where we seek to connect intensive care methods and protocols with commercially restricted models using CT at our testing station for boars in Norway, Norsvin Delta. Applying new methods and protocols on thousands of related individuals at Norsvin Delta, we can relate novel phenotypes to their underlying genetics.

Funding scheme:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri