Probiotics reduce piglet pathogens

November 14, 2013

November 17, 2013 – Piglets fed probiotic Enterococcus faecium showed reduced numbers of potentially pathogenic Escherichia coli strains in their intestines, according to a team of German researchers. The research is important, because in 2006 the European Union prohibited the feeding of antibiotics to livestock as growth promoters. Therefore, the research team sought to investigate whether probiotics could substitute for antibiotics, by reducing pathogen populations in the intestines, says first author Carmen Bednorz of Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany. The study was published ahead of print in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

"We found a clear reduction of E. coli strains possessing typical genes for extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC)," says Bednorz. The reduction was particularly noticeable in strains that adhere to the (and less so in the feces), which was "very interesting," she says, because "ExPEC typically harbor a lot of adhesion genes that promote colonization of the mucosa."

Antimicrobials are thought to promote growth in industrially grown livestock because without them, the rationale goes, in such close quarters, a surfeit of pathogens would slow growth. "Our data suggest that the feeding of probiotics could substitute for antimicrobials as growth promoters," says Bednorz. "This could help to reduce the burden of antimicrobial resistance," she adds.

In previous studies, the working groups from the Institute of Microbiology and Epizootics at Freie Universitat Berlin found that feeding E. faecium probiotic did not change the general swine intestinal microbiota, but reduced infections by Chlamydia spp. and pathogenic E. coli, according to the report.

In the study, Bednorz and her collaborators compared piglets fed with E. faecium to those in a control group. They collected more than 1,400 samples of E. coli from piglets of different ages, and from different parts of the intestine.

While a number of of E. coli are pathogenic, non-pathogenic E. coli "contributes to the maintenance of the microbial gut balance," according to the report. These were relatively unaffected by the feeding of E. faecium, which "did not influence the overall intestinal E. coli diversity, corroborating previous data," according to the report. Thus, the researchers conclude, the results suggest that E. faecium inhibits pathogenic E. coli from becoming attached to the intestinal mucosa.

Explore further: How UTIs in women may damage kidneys

More information: www.asm.org/images/Communications/pdf/1113probioticpigs.pdf

Related Stories

How UTIs in women may damage kidneys

November 8, 2013

A scientist from the Institute of Translational Medicine has been awarded a £190,000 Fellowship by Kidney Research UK to investigate how the E.coli bacteria which cause Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) move to the kidneys ...

Recommended for you

Molecular Zika study finds possible target for tests, drugs

April 19, 2016

The molecular structure of the Zika virus as seen on x-ray crystallography revealed electrostatic differences in a key protein compared with other flaviviruses that might explain how it infects human cells, according to a ...

Zika virus may now be tied to another brain disease

April 10, 2016

The Zika virus may be associated with an autoimmune disorder that attacks the brain's myelin similar to multiple sclerosis, according to a small study that is being released today and will be presented at the American Academy ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.