British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

A high molecular weight soluble fraction of tempeh protects against fluid losses in Escherichia coli-infected piglet small intestine

Jeroen L. Kiersa1a2 p1, M. J. Rob Nouta1, Frans M Romboutsa1, Marius J. A. Nabuursa2 and Jan van der Meulena2 c1

a1 Laboratory of Food Microbiology, Agrotechnology and Food Sciences Group of Wageningen UR, PO Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands

a2 Animal Sciences Group of Wageningen UR, Animal Resources Development, PO Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands


Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is an important cause of diarrhoea in children and piglets. Infection of ETEC results in fluid secretion and electrolyte losses in the small intestine. In this study the effects of tempeh, a traditional fungal fermented soyabean product, on fluid losses induced by ETEC infection in piglets was investigated. Pairs of ETEC-infected and non-infected small intestinal segments of piglets were perfused simultaneously for 8 h with pre-digested tempeh, its supernatant and saline as an internal control. In saline perfused segments, ETEC infection reduced net fluid absorption by more than 500 μl/cm2, whereas this reduction was significantly less for pre-digested tempeh and its supernatant (75 and 282 μl/cm2, respectively). The supernatant of pre-digested tempeh was also compared with its permeate and retentate fractions. These fractions were created by ultra-filtration and contained respectively low and high molecular weight (>5 kDa) compounds. Again ETEC infection caused a significant reduction of net fluid absorption when perfused with saline (386 μl/cm2) and also with the permeate fraction (300 μl/cm2), but much less with the supernatant and the retentate fraction (125 and 140 μl/cm2, respectively). The reduction in net fluid absorption upon ETEC infection when perfused with supernatant of either undigested or pre-digested tempeh was not different. Therefore from this study it can be concluded that a high molecular weight soluble fraction of tempeh is able to protect against fluid losses induced by ETEC, suggesting that this could play a potential role in controlling ETEC-induced diarrhoea.

(Received October 27 2006)

(Revised February 02 2007)

(Accepted February 12 2007)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Jan van der Meulen, fax +31 320 238050, email

p1 Present address: NIZO Food Research, P.O. Box 20, 6710 BA Ede, The Netherlands


Abbreviations: ETEC, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli