Traits associated with innate and adaptive immunity in pigs: heritability and associations with performance under different health status conditions

Mary Clapperton, Abigail B. Diack, Oswald Matika, Elizabeth J. Glass, Christy D. Gladney, Martha A. Mellencamp, Annabelle Hoste, Stephen C. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a need for genetic markers or biomarkers that can predict resistance towards a wide range of infectious diseases, especially within a health environment typical of commercial farms. Such markers also need to be heritable under these conditions and ideally correlate with commercial performance traits. In this study, we estimated the heritabilities of a wide range of immune traits, as potential biomarkers, and measured their relationship with performance within both specific pathogen-free (SPF) and non-SPF environments. Immune traits were measured in 674 SPF pigs and 606 non-SPF pigs, which were subsets of the populations for which we had performance measurements (average daily gain), viz. 1549 SPF pigs and 1093 non-SPF pigs. Immune traits measured included total and differential white blood cell counts, peripheral blood mononuclear leucocyte (PBML) subsets (CD4(+) cells, total CD8 alpha(+) cells, classical CD8 alpha beta(+) cells, CD11R1(+) cells (CD8 alpha(+) and CD8 alpha(-)), B cells, monocytes and CD16(+) cells) and acute phase proteins (alpha-(1) acid glycoprotein (AGP), haptoglobin, C-reactive protein (CRP) and transthyretin). Nearly all traits tested were heritable regardless of health status, although the heritability estimate for average daily gain was lower under non-SPF conditions. There were also negative genetic correlations between performance and the following immune traits: CD11R1(+) cells, monocytes and the acute phase protein AGP. The strength of the association between performance and AGP was not affected by health status. However, negative genetic correlations were only apparent between performance and monocytes under SPF conditions and between performance and CD11R1(+) cells under non-SPF conditions. Although we cannot infer causality in these relationships, these results suggest a role for using some immune traits, particularly CD11R1(+) cells or AGP concentrations, as predictors of pig performance under the lower health status conditions associated with commercial farms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number54
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages11
JournalGenetics Selection Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Traits associated with innate and adaptive immunity in pigs: heritability and associations with performance under different health status conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this