Relationship Between Physiological Improvement of the Intestinal Mucosa and Productive Performance
An optimal state of the intestinal mucosa is crucial for the growth and health of animals, as this mucosa acts by allowing the selective passage of nutrients and...
Índice de Contenidos
The Intestinal Mucosa and its Importance in Productive Performance
Both health and productive performance are closely linked to nutrition. In other words, proper nutrition supports the appropriate development of immunity and ensures optimal growth and production. The phases of the nutrition process that occur in the intestine are crucial, as in this organ, nutrients are absorbed by the body through the intestinal mucosa. In addition to nutrients, microorganisms, antigens, or toxins, among others, also reach the epithelium of the intestinal mucosa. This mucosa acts as a separation between the external environment and the entity. Furthermore, its integrity, both in the structure and function, is a key factor in ensuring that only nutrients are absorbed while preventing the entry of unwanted compounds and agents.
Maintaining the integrity of the intestinal mucosa and its physiological functions is a priority objective in animal production. Many potential factors can alter the digestive tract, so identifying them and implementing measures to minimise their impact is essential to obtain positive production results.
Potential Factors Capable of Altering the Intestinal Mucosa
The stress placed on the digestive system is a significant aspect, given the high genetic pressure to meet production targets for weight or feed conversion ratio. In addition, a multitude of other factors can directly affect the integrity of the intestinal mucosa, such as those listed below:
- Micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria, parasitic protozoa): They can cause damage to the intestinal mucosa when they multiply in enterocytes or when they produce toxins, etc. They produce enteritis of different degrees, diarrhoea, or malabsorption, among other signs.
- Mycotoxins: Some mycotoxins cause necrosis by contact with tissues, such as those of the sesquiterpene group (trichothecenes, T-2). This affects the villi and their ability to absorb nutrients. They also affect the protective function of the epithelium.
- Proinflammatory factors: they alter tight junctions, which are very sensitive to inflammation. Therefore, paracellular permeability will be affected, facilitating the penetration of unwanted agents into the interior of the entity.
- Thermal stress: Reduces blood supply to internal organs and epithelia, such as the intestinal epithelium, and consequently, tight junctions are altered, again affecting paracellular permeability with the consequences described above.
- Enzyme deficiencies: If endogenous enzyme production or exogenous addition is not adapted to the composition of the diet, the unassimilable substrate will increase in the intestine, becoming available to the different micro-organisms, promoting their multiplication, and favouring damage to the intestinal mucosa.
Anti-nutritional factors: negatively and indirectly influence the integrity of the intestinal epithelium. They excessively slow down the transit speed and generate viscosity in the intestine. This favours the multiplication of microorganisms and increases the exposure time of the intestine to other possible adverse factors.
It is necessary to identify correctly these potentially disruptive factors of the intestinal mucosa and to apply specific measures for their control.
Physiological Improvement of the Intestinal Mucosa by Stimulating Specific Genes
Implementing the above measures reduces the impact of potentially disruptive factors in the intestinal environment. The multitude of factors and their simultaneity makes it necessary to promote the physiologically optimal condition of the enterocyte to cope with most of these challenges.
Intestinal conditioning pronutrients have been developed to maintain the physiology of the enterocyte and the intestinal mucosa. These are natural active molecules that stimulate the expression of tissue-specific genes in enterocytes.
Stimulation of these genes in enterocytes leads to the synthesis of specific functional proteins that are responsible for multiple positive effects for the animal:
- They increase the regeneration rate of enterocytes and thus of the epithelium, with the consequent elimination of micro-organisms and detritus adhering to the aged enterocytes.
- They improve the tight junctions between enterocytes, allowing the passage of nutrients and preventing the passage of pathogens.
They increase the metabolic rate of enterocytes, increasing the absorption of nutrients such as vitamins or amino acids and preventing the absorption of toxins.
In conclusion, by establishing measures to control mucosal disrupting factors and to improve enterocyte physiology, the animal will produce optimally, with less microbial damage. In addition, the non-pharmacological mechanism of intestinal conditioning pronutrients allows the replacement of antibiotic promoters without the generation of resistance or the need for a withdrawal period.
Results of Pronutrient Efficacy in Field Trials
Multiple experimental and field trials globally have shown that pronutrient conditioners improve production performance, increase diet utilisation, and therefore improve feed conversion and feed efficiency. This shows a clear relationship between the induced effect on specific genes in enterocytes and what is observed in the field trials regarding productivity.
In a trial carried out in Europe, the effect of the intestinal conditioning pronutrients in broilers was evaluated, and its efficacy was compared with a growth promoter product.
In the weight results, the pronutrient batch finished the trial with 213 g/bird more than the control batch. In addition, pronutrients provided a significant improvement in feed conversion ratio (0.81%) and mortality rate (0.23%) compared to the control group.
These results indicate that for every million chickens fed on a pronutrient diet instead of a promoter, 109 tonnes more meat would be produced, and 20 tonnes of feed would be saved.
In another trial conducted in Central America, the effect of the intestinal conditioning pronutrients was evaluated in digestively challenged broilers using a diet high in anti-nutritional factors. The efficacy of pronutrients was compared with the use of BMD combined with halquinol (non-antibiotic growth promoter).
In the weight results, the pronutrient group obtained the best rate and finished the trial with 146.9 g/bird more than the BMD and halquinol group and 707.7 g/bird more than the control group. In addition, pronutrients led to a significant improvement in feed conversion ratio compared to the promoter and control batches, with 8.3% and 36.6% improvements.
These results indicate that for every million chickens fed on a diet containing pronutrients instead of bacitracin and halquinol, 147 tonnes more meat would be produced, and 324 tonnes of feed would be saved.
Part of this improvement is due to the effect of pronutrients on the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa, whereby the villi appear in a state suitable for the absorption of nutrients while preventing the entry of pathogens.
Furthermore, the effect of intestinal conditioning pronutrients is also observed in layers. In a recent trial, the effect of pronutrients was evaluated in older and heat-stressed layers. These natural active ingredients improve mineral utilisation at the intestinal level and allow laying parameters to be maintained during warmer periods. This was the objective of the trial, which was carried out with layers aged 600 days (85 weeks). It lasted 2.5 months, from 1 August to 16 October, and during this period, the temperature ranged between 27-35ᵒC, which is high for this type of production. Intestinal conditioning pronutrients were administered for 47 days, from 11 August to 28 September.
The results show that the percentage of egg production started at a lower level in the pronutrient supplemented group at the beginning of the trial compared to the control group. However, during pronutrient administration and at the end of the trial, the pronutrient group obtained a higher laying percentage with a difference of up to 6.68% compared to the control group.
Concerning egg weight, the control group started the trial with a higher weight per egg compared to the experimental group. However, after the trial, the pronutrient supplemented group showed a higher weight per egg, with an increase of 3.17% compared to the start of the trial. The final difference between the two treatments was 0.5 grams per egg.
Usually, a higher laying percentage and higher egg production are associated with lower eggshell thickness or shell strength. However, in the trial, it was observed that in the pronutrient conditioner-supplemented group, the shell strength was not altered, despite producing more and heavier eggs. This is related to the increased absorption of calcium and minerals in the intestine due to improved intestinal epithelial integrity.
An optimal state of the intestinal mucosa is crucial for the growth and health of animals, as this mucosa acts by allowing the selective passage of nutrients and preventing the entry of pathogens or unwanted molecules. Due to industrial farming conditions, there are multiple potential factors that can alter the integrity of the intestinal epithelium and its functions with a negative impact on growth and health. Therefore, it is essential to identify these factors and implement measures to minimise their impact and to stimulate enterocyte physiology so that the epithelium can cope with these challenges.
Intestinal conditioning pronutrients are the most effective solution to obtain good production performance, especially when intestinal integrity is challenged, which is very common in industrial farming conditions. These results have proven to be consistent across different global locations, as well as across different species and production abilities.
Pronutrients have additional advantages, such as no withdrawal period, no residues, and no microbial resistance, as they are 100% natural substances.