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Probiotic alternatives to reduce gastrointestinal infections: the poultry experience

  • G. M. Nava (a1), L. R. Bielke (a2), T. R. Callaway (a3) and M. P Castañeda (a1)

The intestinal mucosa represents the most active defense barrier against the continuous challenge of food antigens and pathogenic microorganisms present in the intestinal lumen. Protection against harmful agents is conferred by factors such as gastric acid, peristalsis, mucus, intestinal proteolysis, and the intestinal biota. The establishment of beneficial bacterial communities and metabolites from these complex ecosystems has varying consequences for host health. This hypothesis has led to the introduction of novel therapeutic interventions based on the consumption of beneficial bacterial cultures. Mechanisms by which probiotic bacteria affect the microecology of the gastrointestinal tract are not well understood, but at least three mechanisms of action have been proposed: production/presence of antibacterial substances (e.g., bacteriocins or colicins), modulation of immune responses and specific competition for adhesion receptors to intestinal epithelium. The rapid establishment of bacterial communities has been thought to be essential for the prevention of colonization by pathogenic bacteria. Some animal models suggest that the reduction in bacterial translocation in neonatal animals could be associated with an increase in intestinal bacterial communities and bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances produced by these species. This review emphasizes the role of the intestinal microbiota in the reduction of the gastrointestinal infections and draws heavily on studies in poultry.

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*Animal Science, Laboratory, Room 410, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1207 W. Gregory Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA., and
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Animal Health Research Reviews
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