March 11, 2020

Interpretive Summary: Dietary pterostilbene supplementation to broiler chickens

Interpretive Summary: Dietary pterostilbene supplementation attenuates intestinal damage and immunological stress of broiler chickens challenged with lipopolysaccharide

By: Anne Wallace

Gastrointestinal inflammation and infection take a toll on the poultry industry, adversely impacting production and animal welfare. Alternatives to antibiotics that combat gut aliments and improve the intestinal health of young chickens are needed. Prebiotics, probiotics, and bioactive plant-derived supplements are some alternatives to antibiotics currently being studied. 

Pterostilbene is a plant-derived polyphenol, chemically similar to resveratrol. It is commonly found in blueberries and the heartwood of trees. However, unlike resveratrol, pterostilbene is very bioavailable when ingested, making it a good candidate for supplementation in feed. 

In this January 2020 Journal of Animal Science article, researchers fed day-old male Ross broiler chicks pterostilbene to study its protective effects on the gastrointestinal system. Gastrointestinal stress and injury were induced by an injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) endotoxins. Chicks were fed a diet either containing pterostilbene or no pterostilbene and during this time given either an LPS or harmless normal saline injection. 

Chicks injected with LPS had intestinal damage and decreased intestinal integrity, evidenced by alteration in inflammatory markers and gut barrier integrity proteins towards the pro-inflammatory state. Chicks fed LPS also had decreased body weight gain over chickens that were given normal saline. However, when given LPS and fed pterostilbene, the markers of intestinal damage were significantly lessened. 

The results of this study are supportive of pterostilbene as a chicken feed supplement to lessen intestinal inflammation and injury. More in-depth studies looking at the protective effects of pterostilbene on chickens with active infection may also be warranted.