Intestinal inflammation in livestock 

Making sure that both energy and nutrients are efficiently absorbed and used by the animal is the main goal of nutritionists, and intestinal inflammation is a direct enemy of this goal. Intestinal inflammation can impair the absorption of nutrients and up to 30% of the energy ingested can be used to manage this process instead of contributing to performance.  Farm animals are more vulnerable to changes that can result in inflammation due to their intense metabolism. Environmental events, critical production periods or modification of the diet characteristics can also cause intestinal inflammation in production animals. These challenges can affect all animal species with various consequences:

  • In a weaning or feed transition period, new formula is first recognized as stranger by the organism
  • During vaccination, periods of heat stress, gestation, farrowing, calving, or lactation intense fat metabolism occurs
  • Peaks in laying, lactation, and high average daily gain all require high energy needs

These stresses trigger inflammatory, oxidative stress and immune system warning reactions, which are a major phenomenon in animals’ life. These events can cause lack of performance and profitability. Effectively, the dysfunction of the intestinal barrier can lead to an increase of intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome). For example, this may allow endotoxins (a component of the walls of gram-negative bacteria) to breach the intestinal barrier, which causes local and/or systemic inflammatory reactions. The immune response can then trigger more serious conditions. The recent literature describes that up to 30% of the ingested energy can be directed to manage these processes instead of used in the body for gain or performance. Hence, assessing barrier integrity by modulating the intestinal inflammation status of the animal is of the utmost importance. 

Plant extracts in vitro research results

Various solutions are available in the animal nutrition market to contribute to support animals during those stressful periods and reduce the use of antibiotics. Active ingredients from plant extracts appear to offer a solution. A selection of plant extracts combinations, known from centuries in the traditional Asian pharmacopoeia for having individual anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and analgesic properties have been studied. The combination is made from two plants containing alkaloids for one and neolignans for the second. Alkaloids represent the largest single class of plant secondary metabolites having a remarkable range of pharmacological activity. They are recognized for various biological effects including antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities. Neolignans are also plant secondary metabolites derived from the oxidative coupling of phenylpropanoids. Those phenolic compounds are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions.

A university trial has been conducted in Beauvais (France) to assess the synergistic impact of the two plant extracts on both intestinal integrity and inflammatory process. Human colon cells have been cultivated and then stimulated with a severe model of inflammation (cytokines cocktail).  The plant extracts have been tested alone or in combination to evaluate their impact on Trans-Epithelial Electric Resistance (TEER) and Interleukins 8 secretion (IL-8). TEER is an indicator of intestinal integrity. Highest is the TEER, well preserved tight junctions of intestinal cells are and will ensure good absorption of nutrients. IL-8 are pro-inflammatory markers and their productions are reflecting the level of the inflammation. With the inflammatory challenge, TEER is significantly decreased vs the negative control, meaning that the intestinal integrity is altered (see Table 1).

Table 1: Results of the in vitro research
a, b, c with P< 0.05

With the inflammatory challenge, TEER is significantly decreased vs the negative control, meaning that the intestinal integrity is altered. The addition of the combination of the alkaloids and neolignans plants brings a significant improvement of the intestinal integrity in situations where alkaloids alone or neolignans did not bring any intestinal integrity improvement. With the inflammatory challenge, basal IL-8 secretion is significantly increased, meaning that the challenge is working. The combination of plant extracts decreased the secretion of basal IL-8, showing its ability to limit the over activation of the immune system after an inflammatory challengeAlkaloids or neolignans alone were not able to reduce the secretion of basal IL 8. These results justify the interest of such patented combination and prove its synergistic effect on the preservation of intestinal integrity by avoiding leaky gut syndrome and modulating the immune response to an inflammatory challenge.

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