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Interpretive Summary: Effect of aspirin to intentionally induce leaky gut on performance, inflammation, and carcass characteristics of feedlot cattle

By Anne Zinn

The negative impacts of stress on gastrointestinal tract barrier function can result in compromised animal growth and health; aspirin is known to cause mucosal injury, leading to increased gut permeability and tight junction damage and, in turn, can be used as a model to study leaky gut in cattle. A study recently published in the Journal of Animal Science aimed to determine and characterize the impact of long-term leaky gut and chronic immune activation on animal physiology, growth, and production. It was hypothesized that long-term administration of 0.25% of the diet dry matter aspirin would compromise gastrointestinal tract barrier function, which would ultimately lead to inflammation and immune system activation that would negatively impact animal performance and carcass characteristics. Two treatments were evaluated in two studies: no aspirin or 0.25% of the diet dry matter aspirin fed daily.

Results demonstrated that heifers fed 0.25% aspirin excreted more Cr into urine compared with heifers not fed aspirin and that aspirin tended to increase serum lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, but had no effect on concentrations of interleukin-6, haptoglobin, serum amyloid A, or aspartate aminotransferase. Additionally, aspirin tended to decrease average daily gain, decreased hot carcass weight and rib-eye area, and increased fat thickness, marbling score, and yield grade, as well as increase kidney, pelvic, and heart fat percentage and had no effect on liver abscesses. 

Overall, the results of this student indicate that leaky gut induced by long-term administration of aspirin has a variety of negative impacts on feedlot performance and carcass composition. The negative impact of aspirin-induced leaky gut on animal performance suggests that chronic leaky gut caused by other factors, such as subacute acidosis, and stress, may be a significant problem for the feedlot industry.

The full paper can be found on the Journal of Animal Science webpage.