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Title: Gut health: The new paradigm in food animal production

item Kogut, Michael - Mike
item ARSENAULT, RYAN - University Of Delaware

Submitted to: Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/18/2016
Publication Date: 8/31/2016
Citation: Kogut, M.H., Arsenault, R.J. 2016. Gut health: The new paradigm in food animal production. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 3:71. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2016.00071.

Interpretive Summary: The development of the immune response in baby chicks occurs in the animals’ guts. This is because the gut is exposed to not only nutrients, but also many bacteria that live in the gut. Over the last 20 years, it has been discovered that various bacteria that do not cause disease, but normally grow in the gut, can work together to make the baby animal’s immune system work better and prevent the bad germs from growing. The current work has established that the growth of specific bacteria can control particular components of the baby chick’s local immune environment in the gut. This knowledge will be beneficial to chicken growers, microbiologists, and nutritionists and will help provide better animal feeds that encourage the growth of the normal gut bacteria and the development of a healthy immune system.

Technical Abstract: Modern livestock and poultry operations have undergone dramatic changes in production practices over the last 50 years. Genetic selections for high growth rates and reproductive traits as well as improved management techniques and dietary requirements have led to increased performance standards in all livestock operations. However, it is reasonable to question whether, in the near future, animal performance will reach a ceiling due to genetic and/or physiological limits. It is with these limits in mind that over the last 5+ years, the expression "gut health" has entered the collective consciousness of animal industries and research. The expression "gut health" has become the standard in the scientific literature and animal production industries to describe animal health. However, there is no clear definition for the term gut health. Furthermore, from a scientific point of view, no one can state what gut health is, how it can be defined, and most importantly, how it can be measured. Since we all know that the gut is the gastrointestinal tract, the definition of gut health hinges on defining "health". The simple definition would be the absence of overt disease. However, overt disease is not required to affect animal production. Perhaps a more meaningful definition would be defined as the ability of the gut to perform normal physiological functions and to maintain homeostasis, thereby supporting its ability to withstand infections and non-infectious stressors. This definition incorporates the underlying components of gut health: effective digestion and absorption of food, a stable gut microbial population, structure and function of the gut barrier, and effective function of the immune system. Each of these play a critical role in gut physiology, the productivity of the animal, and its well-being. Comprehension of gut health requires the elucidation of the interactions between all of these components. Understanding the interactions between these diverse fields underscores the scope of areas encompassed by gut health. Newly acquired knowledge has positioned research in "gut health" to advance rapidly in both basic and applied directions. Forces that will remodel the field in the next decade will be derived from public concerns about food safety and the explosive and novel use of new research tools stemming from systems biology ('omics).