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J Anim Sci. 2012 Aug;90(8):2639-51. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-4611. Epub 2012 Feb 24.

Direct fed microbial supplementation repartitions host energy to the immune system.

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Department of Poultry Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7608, USA.


Direct fed microbials and probiotics are used to promote health in livestock and poultry; however, their mechanism of action is still poorly understood. We previously reported that direct fed microbial supplementation in young broilers reduced ileal respiration without changing whole-body energy expenditure. The current studies were conducted to further investigate the effects of a direct fed microbial on energy metabolism in different tissues of broilers. One hundred ninety-two 1-d-old broiler chicks (16 chicks/pen) were randomly assigned to 2 dietary groups: standard control starter diet (CSD) and CSD plus direct fed microbial (DFMD; 0.3%) with 6 pens/treatment. Body weight, feed consumption, whole-body energy expenditure, organ mass, tissue respiration rates, and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) ATP concentrations were measured to estimate changes in energy metabolism. No differences in whole body energy expenditure or BW gain were observed; however, decreased ileal O(2) respiration (P < 0.05) was measured in DFMD fed broilers. In contrast, the respiration rate of the thymus in those broilers was increased (P < 0.05). The PBMC from DFMD fed broilers had increased ATP concentrations and exhibited increased ATP turnover (P < 0.01). To determine if the increased energy consumption by PBMC corresponded with an altered immune response, broilers were immunized with sheep red blood cells (SRBC) and assayed for differences in their humoral response. The DFMD-fed broilers had a faster rate of antigen specific IgG production (P < 0.05) and an increase in total IgA (P < 0.05). Collectively, these data indicate that supplementation with the direct fed microbial used in this study resulted in energy re-partitioning to the immune system and an increase in antibody production independent of changes in whole body metabolism or growth performance.

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