Immunologic Research

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 33-51

First online:

The isolator piglet: a model for studying the development of adaptive immunity

  • J. E. ButlerAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Interdisciplinary Graduate Immunology Program, University of Iowa Email author 
  • , Marek ŠinkoraAffiliated withDepartment of Immunology and Gnotobiology, Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Science of the Czech Republic

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The period from late gestation to weaning in neonatal mammals is a critical window when the adaptive immune system develops and replaces the protection temporarily provided by passive immunity and pre-adaptive antibodies. It is also when oral tolerance to dietary antigen and the distinction between commensal and pathogenic gut bacteria becomes established resulting in immune homeostasis. The reproductive biology of swine provides a unique model for distinguishing the effects of different factors on immune development during this critical period because all extrinsic factors are controlled by the experimenter. This chapter reviews this early stage of development and the usefulness of the piglet model for understanding events during this transitional stage. The review also describes the major features of the porcine immune system and the immune stimulatory and dysregulatory factors that act during this period. The value of the model to medical science in such areas as food allergy, organ transplantation, cystic fibrosis and the production of humanized antibodies for immuno-therapy is discussed.


Neonatal development Colonization Immune homeostasis B and T cell repertoire Fetal development