Immunity is broadly categorized as passive, innate and active, Scott explains. RX3™ boosts innate immunity, which develops as an animal encounters pathogens after birth, Scott says. Passive immunity is passed from mother to offspring via colostrum and through the womb, and innate immunity is the body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders.
“Conception is when immunity starts,” Scott says.
Interestingly, research in human nutrition has shed light on the impact of gestational nutrition in cattle, he says.
“Immune function is conserved across species,” Scott says. “That means I can do research with a minnow and learn something about immunity for cattle and humans. A lot of those things are similar across species.”
In World War II, the Axis powers cut food shipments on Netherlands’ canals, sparking a three-month period of starvation known as the Dutch Hunger Winter, Scott says.
Because one trimester of human pregnancy is also three months, Scott says researchers followed the health of babies born in this time period to learn the long-term effects of nutrition on innate immunity.
“Diseases can be created because of the lifestyle from when your mom was pregnant,” Scott says.
For cattle, starvation in the first trimester can result in increased blood pressure and decreased ovarian reserves in calves, Scott says. In the second trimester, poor nutrition can result in calves gaining less weight across their lifetime.
Even after animals are born, stress can influence the nutrition animals receive from their mother and therefore affect their passive immunity, Scott says. Dairy cattle experiencing heat stress during gestation produced fewer antibodies in colostrum and produced one gallon less milk per day, Scott says.
Nutrition’s influence on immunity may not only come from food, but also the byproduct of consuming food … poop, Scott says.
Grum says new research shows feeding feces (in a pill form) of a healthy person to someone who is sick can cure diseases such as Krohn’s disease in humans. It also has applications in obesity and C. difficile infections, he adds.
“The only thing that has changed is the population of bacteria that are in their guts,” Grum says when describing research transferring feces between obese and thin mice. “It’s a completely mediated microbiome response.”
Scott says from Purina’s RX3™ technology to gestational nutrition and fecal transplants, nutrition is a new frontier in immunology research.
“Immune science in summary – what are we trying to do? We want to keep the entire gut healthy,” Scott says.