Article ID: 17-0095
Pigs with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (X-SCID) caused by a mutation of the interleukin-2 receptor gamma chain gene (IL2RG) are of value for a wide range of studies. However, they do not survive longer than 8 weeks because of their susceptibility to infections. To allow longer survival of X-SCID pigs, the animals must be born and reared under germ-free conditions. Here, we established an efficient system for piglet derivation by hysterectomy and used it to obtain and maintain a germ-free X-SCID pig. In four trials using pregnant wild-type pigs, 66% of piglets after hysterectomy started spontaneous breathing (range of 20–100% per litter). The resuscitation rate was found to negatively correlate with elapsed time from the uterus excision to piglet derivation (r=−0.97, P<0.05). Therefore, it is critical to deliver piglets within 5 min to achieve a high resuscitation rate (82% estimated from regression analysis). In a fifth trial with an IL2RG +/− pig, four piglets were delivered within 4.2 min of uterus excision and three were alive (75%). One of the live born piglets was genotypically and phenotypically determined to be X-SCID and was reared for 12 weeks. The X-SCID piglet was free from both bacteria and fungi at all time points tested by microbial culture and grew without any abnormal signs or symptoms. This study showed successful production and rearing of germ-free pigs, enabling experiments involving long-term follow-up of X-SCID pigs.