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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

Menu Logo Principal AgroParisTech Université Paris-Saclay


GABI : Génétique Animale et Biologie IntégrativeUnité Mixte de Recherche INRA - AgroParisTech

Identification of informative blood biomarkers for the study and prediction of the immune capacity in pigs

Blood is a target tissue for biomarker research for the characterization of the physiological state of individuals. Within the framework of our immunogenetics studies in pigs, we have shown that blood transcriptomes provide information for the description of immune parameters. We have identified strong or weak gene biomarkers from blood subpopulations, with phagocytosis capacity and in vitro cytokine production. These studies are aimed at introducing health and immunocompetence traits in selection objectives.

Context and stakes

Associating zootechnical performances and health traits has been identified as a major challenge in farming to provide productions systems that ensure competitivity, preserve the environment and garantee food security for consumers. To do so, emerging research is aimed at the study of the predictable part of individual responses to biotic or abiotic stress, in order to exploit this prediction capacity in farm management. Our knowledge of animal genomes and analysis methods will now allow us to analyze conjointly nucleotide and structural polymorphisms, evaluate the expression level of coding and non-coding genes and perform association studies with individual performances on the whole genome scale.

Our studies are aimed at characterizing the genetic architecture of the immune response in the pig, in order to include health and immunocompetence traits in selection objectives.


Our study was focused on 60-day old piglets vaccinated against Mycoplasma Hyopneumoniae. The eight immune traits included in the study and reported here were taken from blood samples. They inlcuded the following: the level of in vitro production of four cytokines (IL2, IL10, IFNγ and TNFα), phagocytosis capacity, the CD4-/CD8+ et TCRγδ+ lymphocyte sub-populations, along with the level of anti Mycoplasma antibodies in the blood. The blood transcriptome was analyzed for extreem animals for each phenotype using procine expression microarrays enriched in genes for the immune response. Differential expression profiles of the genes were identified for four of the eight immune phenotypes: IL2 and IL10 production, phagocyte capacity and CD4-/CD8+ lymphocyte ratio. The immune functions were significantly overexpressed among those that characterize the differentially expressed genes. An independent set of 74 animals was used to validate the covariations between the gene expression levels and the levels of the immune parameters measured. Five gene biomarkers were identified with a good prediction capacity for in vitro IL2 (RALGDS) production, phaocytosis capacity (ALOX12) and CD4-/CD8+ (GNLY, KLRG1 and CX3CR1) ratio. On average these biomarkers function with a sensitivity of 79% and a specificity of 86%. These results confirm that the gene profiles in the blood are relevant and informative molecular phenotypes for the characterization of immune response level. They are also sources of biomarkers, therefore offering new perspectives for the estimation of individual immune capacity in the porcine species.


Our studies continue with projects aimed at searching for correlations/associations between individual variations before a stress and variation in the response to this stress. We will be establishing vaccination experiments in the pig in partnership with the Molecular Virology and Immunology laboratory (VIM at Jouy). Our objective is to characterize the blood transcriptome before vaccination and to associate the individual variations for the gene profile with those for vaccination responses. These studies will allow the study of individual predisposition to a good efficacy of vaccination response, with the hopes of reducing antibiotic use. These studies are part of the Horizon2020 package.


This research, before any application in farming, are supported by porcine breeders who are partners in the IMMOPIG and SUS_FLORA projects, financed successively  on the subject since 2007. A possible doctoral project cofinanced by the IFIP-BIOPORC is currently being discussed.


Mach N, Gao Y, Lemonnier G, Lecardonnel J, Oswald IP, Estellé J, Rogel-Gaillard C. The peripheral blood transcriptome reflects variations in immunity traits in swine: towards the identification of biomarkers. BMC Genomics. 2013 Dec 17;14(1):894. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24341289