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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Food and Feed Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #365825

Research Project: Identification of the Ecological Niches and Development of Intervention Strategies to Reduce Pathogenic Foodborne Pathogens in Poultry

Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

Title: Administration of a postbiotic causes immunomodulatory responses in broiler gut and reduces disease pathogenesis following challenge

item JOHNSON, CASEY - University Of Delaware
item Kogut, Michael - Mike
item Genovese, Kenneth - Ken
item He, Louis
item KAZEMI, STEVE - Pure Cultures
item ARSENAULT, RYAN - University Of Delaware

Submitted to: Microorganisms
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2019
Publication Date: 8/17/2019
Publication URL:
Citation: Johnson, C.N., Kogut, M.H., Genovese, K.J., He, L.H., Kazemi, S., Arsenault, R.J. 2019. Administration of a postbiotic causes immunomodulatory responses in broiler gut and reduces disease pathogenesis following challenge. Microorganisms. 7(8):1-19.

Interpretive Summary: There is increasing evidence pointing towards the involvement of 'good' germs in the gut protecting chicks from harmful bacteria. Classical therapies based on the consumption of live probiotic bacteria, or their enrichment by prebiotics, do not provide consistent protection to the chicks from pathogens. Recently, a novel therapeutic approach has been suggested based on materials that the 'good' germs produce and release into the gut. This approach may be able to provide a better way to protect the chicks. We grew some of the 'good' germs in test tubes, then took the media containing the materials produced and fed it to baby chicks before exposing the birds to a 'bad' bacteria challenge. We found that the treated birds were protected from the infection because the materials acted on the chicks' immune systems to provide defense. The results of this experiment are important to the pharmaceutical industry in the United States because they show that we can feed the materials made by 'good' germs from the gut to stimulate the chick’s immune system to protect itself from infection. In addition, there is no danger of the bacteria developing resistance to the compound because it has no direct effect on the bacteria. Thus, the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria could drop dramatically in poultry meat products.

Technical Abstract: With the reemergence of poultry diseases such as necrotic enteritis, following the restriction of in-feed antibiotics, the search for antibiotic alternatives has become critically important. Postbiotics are non-viable bacterial products or metabolic byproducts from probiotic microorganisms that have positive effects on the host or microbiota. These are a promising alternative to antibiotics. Here we describe the mechanism of action of a postbiotic in the context of a Clostridium perfringens challenge model. By using performance measurements and the peptide array kinome analysis, we describe the kinotypes and signal transduction changes elicited by the postbiotic with and without Clostridium perfringens. The postbiotic improves weight gain, lesion scores, Clostridium perfringens counts, and mortality compared to challenge groups. The postbiotic predominantly affects the innate immune response and appears immunomodulatory. In the context of infection, it reduces the proinflammatory responses and generates a homeostatic-like response. This postbiotic is a viable alternative to antibiotics to improve poultry health in the context of Clostridium perfringens pathogen challenge.