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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: AVIAN GENOMIC AND IMMUNOLOGIC APPROACHES FOR CONTROLLING MUCOSAL PATHOGENS Title: Plant phytonutrients as dietary immunostimulants of poultry innate immunity

Author
item LILLEHOJ, HYUN

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: August 3, 2009
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Development of safe and effective alternative methods is becoming a priority for poultry industry due to increasing concerns about increasing drug-resistance of Eimeria, a causative pathogen of avian coccidiosis. Although drugs have been traditionally used to control coccidiosis, the results of recent ARS study indicate a potential non-drug application of dietary strategy against the intestinal protozoan parasites. In this report, ARS scientists demonstrate dietary immunomodulation strategies to enhance gut innate immunity in poultry in collaboration with scientists at the Pancosma S.A., Switzerland. Their recent study found that extracts of plants (turmeric and milk thistle) and mushrooms (shiitake and reishi) stimulate poultry innate immunity and protected against avian coccidiosis. These studies represent first evidence for the immunologically-based enhancement of innate immunity in chickens by medicinal plants and mushrooms and provide new knowledge that will further the development of alternative disease control strategies to enhance animal productivity.

Technical Abstract: With increasing demands for healthy poultry meat products to feed the world's population, the poultry industry is faced with escalating challenges to develop alternative prevention and/or treatment measures such as non-chemical feed supplements that effectively reduce pathogen infectivity and enhance innate immunity that may help limit the use of antimicrobial drugs and enhance productivity. Research immunologist, Dr. Hyun Lillehoj and her team at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Beltsville, Maryland, U.S.A. have been investigating dietary immunomodulation strategies to enhance gut innate immunity in poultry in collaboration with Drs. David Bravo and Catherine Ionescu at the Pancosma S.A., Voie-des-Traz 6, CH-1218 Le Grand Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland. They found that extracts of plants (turmeric and milk thistle) and mushrooms (shiitake and reishi) stimulate poultry innate immunity and kill tumor cells. In vitro culture of chicken spleen lymphocytes with extracts of turmeric (Curcuma longa), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), shiitake (Lentinus edodes) or reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) mushrooms induced significantly increased cell proliferation and activated normal macrophages to produce effector molecules of innate immunity. All of the extracts also uniformly inhibited the growth of chicken tumor cells in vitro. These studies represent first evidence for the immunologically-based enhancement of innate immunity in chickens by medicinal plants and mushrooms and provide new knowledge that will further the development of alternative disease control strategies to enhance animal productivity.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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