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Supplementation of Merino ewes with vitamin E plus selenium increases α-tocopherol and selenium concentrations in plasma of the lamb but does not improve their immune function

Sterndale, S., Broomfield, S., Currie, A., Hancock, S., Kearney, G.A., Lei, J., Liu, S., Lockwood, A., Scanlan, V., Smith, G. and Thompson, A.N. (2017) Supplementation of Merino ewes with vitamin E plus selenium increases α-tocopherol and selenium concentrations in plasma of the lamb but does not improve their immune function. Animal, 12 (5). pp. 998-1006.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1751731117002300
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Abstract

Vitamin E and selenium have been reported to improve immune function across a range of species. Ewes lambing on poor-quality dry pasture in autumn in Western Australia are at risk of being deficient in vitamin E and selenium at lambing thus predisposing their lambs to deficiencies and increasing the risk of infection and disease. This study tested the hypotheses that (i) supplementation of autumn-lambing ewes with vitamin E plus selenium in late gestation will increase the concentrations of vitamin E and selenium in plasma in the ewe and lamb and (ii) that the increased concentrations of vitamin E and selenium in plasma in the lambs will improve their innate and adaptive immune responses and thus survival. Pregnant Merino ewes were divided into a control group (n=58) which received no supplementation or a group supplemented with vitamin E plus selenium (n=55). On days 111, 125 and 140 of pregnancy ewes in the vitamin E plus selenium group were given 4 g all-rac-α-tocopherol acetate orally. On day 111 the ewes were also given 60 mg of selenium as barium selenate by subcutaneous injection. The concentrations of α-tocopherol and selenium were measured in ewes and/or lambs from day 111 of pregnancy to 14 weeks of age±10 days (weaning). Immune function of the lamb was assessed by analysing the numbers and phagocytic capacities of monocytes and polymorphonuclear leucocytes and plasma IgG and anti-tetanus toxoid antibody concentrations between birth and 14 weeks of age±10 days. Maternal supplementation with vitamin E plus selenium increased the concentration of α-tocopherol in plasma (1.13 v. 0.67 mg/l; P<0.001) and selenium in whole blood (0.12 v. 0.07 mg/l; P<0.01) of the ewes at lambing compared with controls. Supplementation also increased the concentration of α-tocopherol (0.14 v. 0.08 mg/l; P<0.001) and selenium (0.08 v. 0.05 mg/l; P<0.01) in lambs at birth compared with controls. There was no significant effect of supplementation on immune function or survival in the lambs.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: © The Animal Consortium 2017
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/39364
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