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broiler chicken was discovered by the research group of pro- fessors Filip Van Immerseel and Richard Ducatelle from the University of Ghent. Diet-derived resin acids reduced the col- lagen degrading activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in the small-intestinal tissue and reduced the infiltration of the inflammatory T-cells in duodenum. During inflammation, MMPs degrade collagen and other pro- teins of the extracellular matrix. This leads to “leaky gut”: de- creased barrier functions and loss of epithelial integrity. Di- et-derived resin acids downregulate the activity and expression of a specific inflammation-associated MMP: matri- lysin or MMP7. By suppressing MMP7, in-feed resin acids sup- port epithelial integrity and barrier functions. The reduced in- filtration of inflammatory T-cells in duodenum is another proof of the anti-inflammatory action of resin acids.


Benefits to microbiota Dietary resin acids beneficially modulate the gastrointestinal microbiota of chickens and sows. Test tube experiments have verified the action of the product against gram-positive path- ogens such as C. perfringens and Staphylococcus aureus, and also the tolerance of lactobacilli to resin acids. In broiler chickens, Progres favoured the small-intestinal growth of lactobacilli and the caecal populations of butyrate producers. In sows, opportunistic pathogens like Barnesiella and Campylobacter were reduced while beneficial butyrate


producers increased in faecal samples. In these trials, dietary resin acids improved the weight gain and feed conversion of broilers and the reproductive performance of sows. Resin acids are absorbed by the intestinal epithelium of broiler chicken, but re-introduced to the intestinal lumen via bile, and mostly voided via faeces. Resin acids do not accumulate in breast meat, liver or adipose tissue of broiler chicken. In a dairy cow trial at Natural Resources Institute Finland, resin acids were detected in faeces but not in milk.


Animal performance Progres improves the growth and feed conversion of broilers, turkeys, calves and goat kids, and the litter size and perfor- mance of sows. In dairy cows it enhances the digestibility of the diet and the onset of lactation after calving. The efficacy has been remarkably consistent regardless of the animal spe- cies, with a return on investment varying from 3:1 to 15:1. Re- sponses to resin acids have been stronger in challenge studies e.g. coccidiosis or dysbiosis than in non-challenged settings. In conclusion, diet-derived coniferous resin acids have a dual benefit in the gut: they favourably modulate the microbiota and protect epithelial integrity. Thus, resin acids protect intestinal barrier functions and support homeostasis which are essential functions for high-performing farm animals.


References are available on request ▶ GUT HEALTH | DECEMBER 2020 105


Dual function of resin acids in the intestinal tract: they protect the epithelial barrier and support the growth of bene- ficial microbiota.


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