Dietary means for enhanced gastrointestinal health and function in weaned pigs: An evaluation of carbohydrase enzymes targeting non-starch polysaccharides
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A major challenge for the pig industry is to formulate starter diets that primarily fit the digestive capacity, maintain GIT health and promote growth without recourse to in-feed antimicrobials. Experiments were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of carbohydrase enzymes (CE) targeting non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) in enhancing gut health and function in piglets. First, an experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of adding CE in piglet diets on growth performance, GIT bacterial activity and nutrient digestibility. Pigs fed diets containing CE had a higher ileal lactobacilli count, total organic acids concentrations, NSP digestibility and low ammonia compared with control. The effectiveness of CE targeting NSP was further evaluated using enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) in a challenge model to evaluate the impact on gut health and function. Two approaches for the ETEC challenge were adopted; an in situ small intestine segments perfusion model and an in vivo model. Initially, a pilot study was conducted to establish and validate the in situ model. In the pilot study, conventional anti-diarrhea agents; fumaric acid, ZnO, egg yolk antibodies against ETEC K88 fimbriae and carbadox, attenuated fluid losses in ETEC-infected jejunal segments. Following the establishment of the in situ model, four experiments were conducted to study the effects NSP hydrolysis products (HP) from various feedstuffs (i.e. wheat, soybean meal, canola meal and flaxseed) on ETEC-induced secretory diarrhea. The results demonstrated that HP protected against ETEC-induced fluid and electrolyte losses. A further study was conducted to investigate the response of piglets fed diets containing HP and EYA singly or in combination upon oral challenge with ETEC. Feeding HP and EYA alone or in combination attenuated ETEC-enteritis symptoms such that piglets fed additives showed less pronounced acute phase responses and superior performance. Piglets fed diets containing additives had lower gastric pH, fewer ETEC adhered to ileal mucosa and lower incidence of diarrhea. Overall, reduction of intestinal pathogens or toxic bacterial metabolites contributes to enhanced GIT health and function. These novel results expand the scope of enzyme technology in animal nutrition within the new paradigm of dietary approaches to gut health and function.