Interpretive Summary: Effects of inulin supplementation on intestinal barrier function and immunity in specific pathogen-free chickens with Salmonella infection
By: Anne Wallace
Food-borne illnesses like Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis (SE) can have a profound impact on human health and safety. It also has negative impacts on poultry production. Since antibiotics are not ideal for treating SE infections due to adverse reactions associated with their administration and antibiotic resistance, alternatives to antibiotics, like the prebiotic inulin, which may combat SE by modifying gut microbiota and gut inflammation, are needed.
In this January 2020 Journal of Animal Science study, researchers investigated how inulin affected the intestinal barrier function and mucosal immunity of pathogen-free (SPF) chickens infected with SE. Chickens were fed a control diet containing no inulin (CON and SE group), 0.5% inulin (0.5% InSE group), and 1% inulin (1% InSE group). The CON chickens were administered saline instead of SE, acting as a negative control. The other groups were infected with SE. Post-infection, chickens were evaluated for various markers of intestinal health.
Gene expression of inflammatory markers were increased in chickens with SE. Protective gut barrier genes (such as MUC2, which secretes a protective mucous) were decreased in chickens with SE. Administration of inulin in InSE groups was found to benefit the expression of these genes towards decreasing the inflammatory response towards SE. There was also increased height of intestinal microvilli and decreased crypt depth, indicative of healthier gut barrier function.
Overall, the results of this study support inulin supplementation as a possible way to mitigate the negative impacts of SE on intestinal barrier function and immunity. The pro-inflammatory response was reduced in chickens fed inulin and inoculated with SE. More studies looking at the effect inulin may have on gut immunity for other pathogens may be warranted.