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Title: Dietary Curcuma longa enhances resistance against Eimeria maxima and Eimeria tenella infections in chickens

item KIM, DUK - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item LILLEHOJ, HYUN - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item LEE, SUNG - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item JANG, SEUNG - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item PARK, MYEONG - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item LILLEHOJ, ERIK - University Of Maryland
item BRAVO, DAVID - Pancosma Sa

Submitted to: World's Poultry Science Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/28/2013
Publication Date: 10/1/2013
Publication URL:
Citation: Kim, D.K., Lillehoj, H.S., Lee, S.H., Jang, S.I., Park, M.S., Lillehoj, E.P., Bravo, D. 2013. Dietary Curcuma longa enhances resistance against Eimeria maxima and Eimeria tenella infections in chickens. World's Poultry Science Journal. 92(10):2635-2643.

Interpretive Summary: Intestinal parasites of Eimeria family cause coccidiosis which destroy gut integrity negatively affecting nutrient absorption. Although coccidiosis has been traditionally controlled by drugs, we need a new strategy to control coccidiosis and other infections of poultry due to increasing concerns about the use of drugs in animal production. In this paper, ARS scientists and a private industry collaborated to develop an antibiotic alternative strategy to control coccidiosis based on the previous observation that essential oils from certain plants are effective feed additives to ameliorate the ill effects of Eimeria infection. Specifically, Curcuma longa (curcumin powder) which is a common flavoring powder possesses several plant-derived compounds exhibiting a wide variety of pharmacological properties, including those against tumor cells, hormonal disorders, inflammation, bacterial infection, and parssite infection. Because extracts of C. longa have been shown to exert antimicrobial effects in mammalian systems of parasite infection, including those of coccidian parasites, the current study was undertaken to evaluate the effects of this phytonutrient on intestinal immunity to coccidiosis. This study showed that feeding newly hatched chickens with an organic extract of C. longa reduced parasite multiplication, decreased gut damage and increased body weight gains compared to the birds on non-supplemented diet. More importantly the C. longa-supplemented diet increased host immune response to coccidia parasites and caused significant upregulation of intestinal transcriptome associated with host innate immune response. These studies provide first science-based evidence that dietary curcumin can ameliorate Eimeria-induced gut epithelial damage and thus represents a novel antibiotic-alternative way to control coccidiosis in poultry.

Technical Abstract: The effects of dietary supplementation with an organic extract of Curcuma longa on systemic and local immune responses to experimental Eimeria maxima and E. tenella infections were evaluated in commercial broiler chickens. Infected chickens given the C. longa-containing diet had increased body weight gains, reduced fecal oocyst shedding, and decreased gut lesions compared with infected birds given a non-supplemented control diet. The C. longa-supplemented diet also was associated with increased systemic humoral immunity, as assessed by greater levels of serum antibodies to an Eimeria EtMIC2 recombinant protein, and augmented cellular immunity, as measured by heightened concanavalin A-induced spleen cell proliferation, compared with controls. At the intestinal level, differential gene expression by microarray hybridization identified 601 altered transcripts (287 up-regulated, 314 down-regulated) in gut lymphocytes of C. longa-fed birds compared with non-supplemented controls. Based on the known functions of the corresponding mammalian genes, the C. longa-altered intestinal transcriptome was consistent with an anti-inflammatory effect in the gut. Taken together, these results suggest that dietary C. longa may attenuate Eimeria-induced, inflammation-mediated gut epithelial damage and thus represent a possible alternative to current drug- and/or vaccine-based coccidiosis control strategies for commercial poultry production.