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Improving gut wall integrity by zinc nutrition


The maintenance of a healthy gut and specifically the integrity of the gut wall is vital for efficient and cost-effective production. Ensuring adequate zinc in optimum form can have a big impact on maintaining gut integrity and minimising the impact of challenges.


BY DR CHRISTOF RAPP, DR CIBELE TORRES AND DR HUW MCCONOCHIE, TECHNICAL SERVICES, ZINPRO CORPORATION


T birds fed Availa-Zn.


he efficiency of the gut wall can be compromised by a number of challenges affecting performance, but the impact of these challenges can be reduced by dietary supplementation with zinc in the most


appropriate form. The gut is much more than a tube that absorbs nutrients from the diet. It plays a number of other significant roles contributing to overall health and performance of the animal. These include immunity, with 70% of the total immune system residing in the gut wall. In addition, the gut signals the pancreas to initiate insulin production and plays a role in the pathways that signal satiety and drive appetite. Furthermore, it is involved in the production of mucus and antimicrobial peptides. The gut wall also contains neuroendocrine cells that release intestinal hormones and peptides into the bloodstream and regulates a wide range of metabolic functions. So, maintaining gut health is of high importance. Anything that compromises the gut wall activates the


Figure 2 - Immuno-histological staining for CD3+ positive cells at 


immune system, and in doing so diverts glucose away from production, leading to reduced productivity. Activation of the immune system and inflammation has been shown to decrease weight gain by up to 25% in weaned pigs and 27% in broilers. In dairy cows, milk production was reduced by 42% in mid-lactation cows with experimentally-induced gut wall challenges.


What is a healthy gut wall? A healthy gut wall is characterised by a number of factors at the histological level. These include tight junctions which bind neighbouring cells together to form an imper- meable barrier, rather like a zip. A healthy gut wall will have a higher villi length to crypt depth ratio which means cell turnover is reduced. When the gut wall is compromised the junctions between cells begin to open, resulting in so-called ‘leaky gut’ which has significant consequences to the animal. The first is that nutrients leak back out of the blood into the gut, reducing the total absorption capacity by the gut and decreasing nutrient availability for production. In addition, water passes into the gut which is a major cause of scouring and dehydration. Toxins can also pass through into the bloodstream and stimulate an immune response, diverting energy from production. There are several common causes of reduced gut integrity across all species:


Control Photo: Annatachja Grande, Ghent University, Belgium Availa-Zn


1. Feed deprivation and reduced feed intake. Reduced intake of key nutrients results in fewer


56 ▶ GUT HEALTH | DECEMBER 2020


PHOTO: ZINPRO


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