Can functional amino acids help piglets and chickens cope with challenges?

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Monty Rakusen
© GettyImages/Monty Rakusen

Related tags Amino acids weaning piglets coccidiosis polyphenols

French amino acid producer, METEX NØØVISTAGO, is targeting piglet and poultry production with a new range aimed at modulating the microbiota

Branded as inneus, the range is being launched in the EU and the UK, with one product focused on piglets and another on birds, “We have also started the registration process in other countries outside EU​,” said Kostas Syriopoulos, who is in charge of inneus.

The product comprises a synergistic combination of functional amino acids with a polyphenol. “From the literature and a transcriptomic analysis of the intestine, we’ve been able to identify some key candidates and their roles. The objective was then to find the right combination and the right synergy, to end up with a complete solution that can be implemented at a consistent dose (1kg/ton),”​ he told FeedNavigator.

The amino acid range has been designed to support the gut health of piglets and poultry during sanitary or physiological challenge such as weaning for piglets, or coccidiosis for chickens.

It looks to support the four pillars of gut health: gut barrier function, immune fitness, oxidative status homeostasis, and microbiota balance, he said. Using a metabolomic study, the research team measured the ability of the synergistic combination to influence the microbiota composition and, more important, to enhance the production of beneficial metabolites.

“In order to modulate the microbiota, the functional amino acids need to reach the hindgut. The polyphenol binds the amino acids and has a carrier effect, bringing them to the lower part of the gut,” ​said Syriopoulos.

There is growing evidence that amino acids can influence intestinal barrier function and inflammation in broiler chickens, according to the company’s R&D work.

Research outcomes

A paper ​by Chalvon-Demersay et al, published last year, reveals that the supplementation of a combination of versatile and functional amino acids together with polyphenols supplemented at a low dose (0.1% as fed basis) can mitigate the effect of the challenge on performance by restoring nutrient digestibility and potentially modulating other parameters such as immune and oxidative stress status and microbiota balance.

The teams said, though, that the understanding of the full mode of action of the mix warrants further research.

Another study​ carried out by Barekatain et al, which was also released in 2021, noted that arginine, glutamine, and threonine are regarded as functional amino acids that can help restore gut integrity-related issues under enteric or stress-related conditions. The team said they investigate different combination of arginine, glutamine, and threonine along with a grape extract specifically tailored to improve performance and intestinal functions of broilers.

The results showed that tested amino acids were able to improve feed conversion ratio of broilers while alleviating the intestinal inflammation caused by administration of synthetic glucocorticoid through different pathways. There was also indication of changes in intestinal permeability by tested amino acids. The mechanistic understanding of different amino acids and their combinations presents opportunity to optimize intestinal barrier function particularly under stress related conditions.”

Weaning is a challenging period for gut health in piglets, commented Beaumont et al​. Their paper noted how previous studies showed that dietary supplementations with either amino acids or polyphenols promote piglet growth and intestinal functions, when administered separately.  And they, thus, decided to see if a combination of amino acids and polyphenols could facilitate the weaning transition.

They outlined how, during the first two weeks after weaning, pigs received a diet supplemented or not with a mix of a low dose (0.1%) of functional amino acids (l-arginine, l-leucine, l-valine, l-isoleucine, l-cystine) and 100 ppm of a polyphenol-rich extract from grape seeds and skins.

The researchers saw that the combination of amino acids and polyphenols improved growth and feed efficiency.

Those beneficial effects were associated with a lower microbiota diversity and a bloom of Lactobacillaceae​ in the jejunum content while the abundance of Proteobacteria​ was reduced in the caecum content, they said.

“The mix of amino acids and polyphenols also increased the production by the caecum microbiota of short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate) and of metabolites derived from amino acids (branched-chain fatty acids, valerate, putrescine) and from polyphenols (3-phenylpropionate). Experiments in piglet jejunum organoids revealed that the mix of amino acids and polyphenols upregulated the gene expression of epithelial differentiation markers while it reduced the gene expression of proliferation and innate immunity markers.

“In conclusion, the supplementation of a mix of amino acids and polyphenols is a promising nutritional strategy to manage gut health in piglets through the modulation of the gut microbiota and of the epithelial barrier.”​ 

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