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The antimicrobial peptide cecropin AD on performance and intestinal health in weaned piglets challenged with Escherichia coli

Cecropin AD may enhance immune status and energy retention in piglets enhancing animal performance and intestinal health.

Friday 2 November 2012 (6 years 2 months 16 days ago)

This study was conducted to determine the effects of the antimicrobial peptide cecropin on performance and intestinal health in piglets. Twenty-four, newly weaned barrows (Large White x Landrace; initial BW = 6.76 ± 0.54 kg; 21 ± 3 d of age) were randomly assigned to one of three treatments (n = 8) according to their initial body weight in a randomized complete block design. Diets were corn-soybean based or similar diets supplemented with antibiotics (100 mg/kg kitasamycin plus 800 mg/kg colistin sulfate) or 400 mg/kg cecropin AD. On day 13, all piglets were orally challenged with 109 CFU/mL of Escherichia coli K88. On day 19, all piglets were euthanized and sampled.

Before challenge, piglets fed antibiotics had greater weight gain (328 vs. 354 g/day), feed efficiency (0.72 vs. 0.77) than the control (P < 0.05). E. coli challenge decreased weight gain, feed intake and feed efficiency for the control piglets (P < 0.05) but not for the antibiotic or cecropin AD treated piglets. Antibiotic supplementation resulted in higher nitrogen (P < 0.04) and energy retention (P < 0.04) (11.5 g/day and 3.0 MJ/kg/day) compared with the cecropin AD (10.7 g/day and 2.8 MJ/kg/day) and control (10.1 g/day and 2.5 MJ/kg/day) groups. The incidence of diarrhea post-challenge in the antibiotic and cecropin AD treatments decreased 52.4% and 47.6%, respectively, compared with the control piglets. The total viable counts of cecal E. coli (3.09 vs. 3.22 vs. 3.37 log CFU/g digesta) were lower while the Lactobacilli (9.47 vs. 9.23 vs. 8.89 log CFU/g digesta) counts were higher in the antibiotic and cecropin AD treatments compared with the control (P < 0.05). Cecropin AD treatment vs. the control group, decreased total aerobes (6.43 vs. 6.69 log CFU/g of digesta) while increasing total anaerobes (10.12 vs. 9.36 log CFU/g of digesta) in the ileum (P < 0.05). A higher villus height to crypt depth ratio in the jejunum and ileum as well as a deeper crypt depth in the jejunum and higher villus height in the ileum were observed in piglets fed antibiotics or cecropin AD compared with control piglets (P < 0.05). Piglets fed the control diet had lower levels of secretory IgA in their jejunum (65.1 µg/g in the control group to 71.5 and 74.5 µg/g in the antibiotic and cecropin AD treatment, respectively) and lower serum IgA (167.8 vs. 165.1 vs. 185.4 µg/ml), IgG (868.4 vs. 925.3 vs. 1020.7 µg/ml), interleukin-1 (4.58 vs. 7.88 vs. 9.77 pg/ml) and interleukin-6 (1.97 vs. 2.84 vs. 5.04 pg/ml) compared with the other treatments (P < 0.05).

Overall, these data suggest that cecropin AD enhances pig performance through increasing immune status and nitrogen and energy retention as well as reducing intestinal pathogens in weaned piglets.

S Wu, F Zhang, Z Huang, H Liu, C Xie, J Zhang, PA Thacker, S Qiao. 2012. Effects of the antimicrobial peptide cecropin AD on performance and intestinal health in weaned piglets challenged with Escherichia coli. Peptides, 35:225-230.

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