Researchers from University of California Davis have reported in PLOS ONE the development of transgenic goats that produce lysozyme, an antimicrobial normally found in human breast milk. The idea is to use the milk to prevent or alleviate the effects of gastrointestinal infections.
The team then setup an experiment where two groups of pigs infected with E. coli were fed from the new, and from the boring old goat’s milk. The results showed that pigs who drank milk from the new transgenic goats did much better in recovering from the infection.
Here’s the Abstract from the study..
Childhood diarrhea is a significant problem in many developing countries and E. coli is a main causative agent of diarrhea in young children. Lysozyme is an antimicrobial protein highly expressed in human milk, but not ruminant milk, and is thought to help protect breastfeeding children against diarrheal diseases.
We hypothesized that consumption of milk from transgenic goats which produce human lysozyme (hLZ-milk) in their milk would accelerate recovery from bacterial-induced diarrhea. Young pigs were used as a model for children and infected with enterotoxigenic E. coli. Once clinical signs of diarrhea developed, pigs were fed hLZ-milk or non-transgenic control goat milk three times a day for two days.
Clinical observations and complete blood counts (CBC) were performed. Animals were euthanized and samples collected to assess differences in histology, cytokine expression and bacterial translocation into the mesenteric lymph node. Pigs consuming hLZ-milk recovered from clinical signs of infection faster than pigs consuming control milk, with significantly improved fecal consistency (p = 0.0190) and activity level (p = 0.0350). The CBC analysis showed circulating monocytes (p = 0.0413), neutrophils (p = 0.0219), and lymphocytes (p = 0.0222) returned faster to pre-infection proportions in hLZ-milk fed pigs, while control-fed pigs had significantly higher hematocrit (p = 0.027), indicating continuing dehydration. In the ileum, pigs fed hLZ-milk had significantly lower expression of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 (p = 0.0271), longer intestinal villi (p<0.0001), deeper crypts (p = 0.0053), and a thinner lamina propria (p = 0.0004). These data demonstrate that consumption of hLZ-milk helped pigs recover from infection faster, making hLZ-milk an effective treatment of E. coli-induced diarrhea.