Microbial and metabolomic mechanisms mediating the effects of dietary inulin and cellulose supplementation on porcine oocyte and uterine development
Abstract Background Dietary fiber (DF) is often eschewed in swine diet due to its anti-nutritional effects, but DF is attracting growing attention for its reproductive benefits. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of DF intake level on oocyte maturation and uterine development, to determine the optimal DF intake for gilts, and gain microbial and metabolomic insight into the underlying mechanisms involved. Methods Seventy-six Landrace × Yorkshire (LY) crossbred replacement gilts of similar age (92.6 ± 0.6 d; mean ± standard deviation [SD]) and body weight (BW, 33.8 ± 3.9 kg; mean ± SD) were randomly allocated to 4 dietary treatment groups (n = 19); a basal diet without extra DF intake (DF 1.0), and 3 dietary groups ingesting an extra 50% (DF 1.5), 75% (DF 1.75), and 100% (DF 2.0) dietary fiber mixture consisting of inulin and cellulose (1:4). Oocyte maturation and uterine development were assessed on 19 d of the 2nd oestrous cycle. Microbial diversity of faecal samples was analysed by high-throughput pyrosequencing (16S rRNA) and blood samples were subjected to untargeted metabolomics. Results The rates of oocytes showing first polar bodies after in vitro maturation for 44 h and uterine development increased linearly with increasing DF intake; DF 1.75 gilts had a 19.8% faster oocyte maturation rate and a 48.9 cm longer uterus than DF 1.0 gilts (P < 0.05). Among the top 10 microbiota components at the phylum level, 8 increased linearly with increasing DF level, and the relative abundance of 30 of 53 microbiota components at the genus level (> 0.1%) increased linearly or quadratically with increasing DF intake. Untargeted metabolic analysis revealed significant changes in serum metabolites that were closely associated with microbiota, including serotonin, a gut-derived signal that stimulates oocyte maturation. Conclusions The findings provide evidence of the benefits of increased DF intake by supplementing inulin and cellulose on oocyte maturation and uterine development in gilts, and new microbial and metabolomic insight into the mechanisms mediating the effects of DF on reproductive performance of replacement gilts.