Companion Animals Symposium III
By Lauren Soranno
On the morning of July 21, 2020, the ASAS-CSAS-WSASAS Virtual Annual Meeting continued with a variety of symposia, including the third symposium on Companion Animals. The session was chaired by Dr. Katie Barry, who began by giving a brief introduction to set up the following presentations which focused on dairy ingredients and their application in human and animal food. Dr. Louise E. Bennett, a professor at Monash University, began the main presentations discussing the therapeutic possibilities for whey proteins and lactoferrin (LF) in Alzheimer’s disease. She focused on two potential intervention targets through the use of wPRP and LF. In the first target, whey-derived peptides may prevent early assembly of fibrils and then promote natural clearance of the toxic effects of Aβ peptides. The second target focused more on infection control, where LF may have the potential to suppress the activity of microbes and viruses.
Next, Dr. Manabu Nakano, a research associate at Morinaga Milk Industry Co., continued the symposium by discussing the beneficial use of LF as well as lactoperoxidase (LPO), but this time in terms of oral health. His research group developed an LF+LPO powder and through clinical trials assessed the effects of tablets containing this powder on oral malodor, oral microbiota, gingival inflammation, and oral health in general. Dr. Nakano concluded that the LF+LPO powder suppresses oral malodor and improves oral microbiota and gingival health.
Dr. Kun-Ho Seo, a professor at Konkuk University, shifted the focus to another milk product, kefir, and its health benefits in pet food. Kefir is a fermented probiotic dairy product containing lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, and yeast. Studies on kefir consumption have been conducted in mice and chicken, but not in companion animals; therefore, Dr. Seo’s lab designed a study to check the safety, palatability, and health benefit of kefir as a dietary supplement for companion animals. In dogs, they found that kefir is safe, the dog’s actively and spontaneously consumed it, and kefir improved constipation and the gut microbiota.
After a short break, Dr. Emily Arentson-Lantz, a research scientist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, presented about applications of whey protein in terms of optimizing protein intake to mitigate the consequences of disuse and aging on muscle health. Whey protein isolate is a protein source of leucine, an essential amino acid, that has been found to help with muscle protein synthesis. Using bed rest as an accelerated aging model and supplementing the older adults used in this model with protein from whey protein isolate, Dr. Arentson-Lantz concluded that the use of whey protein protected against muscle loss and gaining fat mass during disuse and promoted recovery of muscle strength during recovery.
To conclude the session, Dr. Sharon Donovan, a professor at the University of Illinois, discussed a specific milk component, milk fat globule membrane (MFGM), that has shown to benefit cognitive development of neonates. She presented data from clinical trials performed in infants as well as piglets. Infants supplemented with MFGM had a reduced number of infections, modified oral microbiomes, lowered incidences of gastrointestinal-associated adverse effects, and improved cognitive development (although this did not persist at 18 months of age). Piglets supplemented with MFGM had increased expression of important neurotransmitters in the small intestine and seemed to have earlier maturation of the brain. Overall, more studies need to be conducted on these dairy ingredients to determine the potential applications in pet food as well as human food.