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Open Access Research article

The peripheral blood transcriptome reflects variations in immunity traits in swine: towards the identification of biomarkers

Núria Mach12*, Yu Gao3, Gaëtan Lemonnier12, Jérôme Lecardonnel12, Isabelle P Oswald45, Jordi Estellé12 and Claire Rogel-Gaillard12*

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UMR1313 Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, F-78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France

2 AgroParisTech, UMR1313 Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, F-78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France

3 Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, USA

4 INRA, UMR1331, Toxalim, Research Centre in Food Toxicology, F-31027 Toulouse, France

5 Université de Toulouse III, INP, Toxalim, F- 31076 Toulouse, France

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:894  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-894

Published: 17 December 2013



Immune traits (ITs) are potentially relevant criteria to characterize an individual’s immune response. Our aim was to investigate whether the peripheral blood transcriptome can provide a significant and comprehensive view of IT variations in pig.


Sixty-day-old Large White pigs classified as extreme for in vitro production of IL2, IL10, IFNγ and TNFα, phagocytosis activity, in vivo CD4-/CD8+ or TCRγδ + cell counts, and anti-Mycoplasma antibody levels were chosen to perform a blood transcriptome analysis with a porcine generic array enriched with immunity-related genes. Differentially expressed (DE) genes for in vitro production of IL2 and IL10, phagocytosis activity and CD4-/CD8+ cell counts were identified. Gene set enrichment analysis revealed a significant over-representation of immune response functions. To validate the microarray-based results, a subset of DE genes was confirmed by RT-qPCR. An independent set of 74 animals was used to validate the covariation between gene expression levels and ITs. Five potential gene biomarkers were found for prediction of IL2 (RALGDS), phagocytosis (ALOX12) or CD4-/CD8+ cell count (GNLY, KLRG1 and CX3CR1). On average, these biomarkers performed with a sensitivity of 79% and a specificity of 86%.


Our results confirmed that gene expression profiling in blood represents a relevant molecular phenotype to refine ITs in pig and to identify potential biomarkers that can provide new insights into immune response analysis.

Biomarkers; Blood; Pig; Transcriptome; Immune response