Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 18, 2011
Publication Date: January 15, 2011
Citation: Kogut, M.H., Swaggerty, C.L. 2011. The effects of pre- and probiotics on the host immune response. In: Callaway, T.R., Ricke, S.C., editors. Direct Fed Microbials/Prebiotics for Animals: Science and Mechanisms of Action. New York, NY: Springer Verlag Publishing. p. 61-72. Technical Abstract: The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the largest interface between an animal’s internal milieu and its exterior environment. As such, it forms a physical barrier between both environments. However, the function of the GI tract in the well-being of an animal is more complex than this passive role. The GI tract not only regulates the selective entry of nutrients while keeping vigilant against pathogens, but is largely responsible for shaping the immune response. Through specialized receptors and other general mechanisms, the GI tract senses changes in its environment and actively responds to these changes. These responses allow the intestine to contribute to the defense against microbes as well as control and regulate the local immune response. In addition, the luminal microbial ecosystem is a highly complex community of primarily bacterial microbes that communicate extensively both with itself and the host. This microbial community has major influences on the host, including effects upon nutrient absorption, cancer, inflammation, host metabolism, barrier function, and gut function (neuromotor, immunologic, and vascular) among others. Regulation of the immune response is the basis for the use of probiotics and prebiotics reviewed in this chapter.