Probiotics reduce piglet pathogens

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.

More information: www.asm.org/images/Communicati… 113probioticpigs.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Disease-causing Escherichia coli: 'I will survive'

Sep 09, 2009

Strains of Escherichia coli bacteria that cause food poisoning have been shown to have marked differences in the numbers of genes they carry compared to laboratory strains of E. coli. Some of these genes may enable them t ...

Sources of E. coli are not always what they seem

Nov 29, 2012

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have identified sources of Escherichia coli bacteria that could help restore the reputation of local livestock. Studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) ...

Intestinal bacteria protect against E. coli O157:H7

May 20, 2013

A cocktail of non-pathogenic bacteria naturally occurring in the digestive tract of healthy humans can protect against a potentially lethal E. coli infection in animal models according to research presented today at the 11 ...

How UTIs in women may damage kidneys

Nov 08, 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 ...

Recommended for you

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

10 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

16 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

19 new dengue cases in Japan, linked to Tokyo park

22 hours ago

Japan is urging local authorities to be on the lookout for further outbreaks of dengue fever, after confirming another 19 cases that were contracted at a popular local park in downtown Tokyo.

User comments