Analysis of Serum microRNA Expression Profiles and Comparison with Small Intestinal microRNA Expression Profiles in Weaned Piglets
Weaning stress induces tissue injuries and impairs health and growth in piglets, especially during the first week post-weaning. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play vital roles in regulating stresses and diseases. Our previous study found multiple differentially expressed miRNAs in small intestine of piglets at four days post-weaning. To better understand the roles of miRNAs during weaning stress, we analyzed the serum miRNA expressional profile in weaned piglets (at four days post-weaning) and in suckling piglets (control) of the same age using miRNA microarray technology. We detected a total of 300 expressed miRNAs, 179 miRNAs of which were differentially expressed between the two groups. The miRNA microarray results were validated by RT-qPCR. The biological functions of these differentially expressed miRNAs were predicted by GO terms and KEGG pathway annotations. We identified 10 highly expressed miRNAs in weaned piglets including miR-31, miR-205, and miR-21 (upregulated) and miR-144, miR-30c-5p, miR-363, miR-194a, miR-186, miR-150, and miR-194b-5p (downregulated). Additionally, miR-194b-5p expression was significantly downregulated in serum and small intestine of weaned piglets. Our results suggest that weaning stress affects serum miRNA profiles in piglets. And serum miR-194b-5p levels can reflect its expressional changes in small intestine of piglets by weaning stress.