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Antisecretory factor as a potential health-promoting molecule in man and animals

  • Caterina Ulgheri (a1), Beatrice Paganini (a1) and Filippo Rossi (a1)

Antisecretory factor (AF) is a protein secreted in plasma and other tissue fluids in mammals with proven antisecretory and anti-inflammatory activity; its immunohistological distribution suggests a role in the immune system. The expression level and the distribution of AF protein are altered during an immunological response. Exposure to bacterial toxins induces secretion of AF in plasma, probably reflecting a natural defence mechanism to agents causing diarrhoea, thereby contributing to a favourable clinical outcome and disease termination. An increase of AF levels in plasma by dietary means, such as specially processed cereals (SPC), has been demonstrated in human subjects and animals. Administration of SPC to patients affected by inflammatory bowel disease, gastroenteritis and Ménière's disease relieved symptoms and improved quality of life. A recent study showed the positive effect of SPC diet supplementation on prevention of the effects of exposure to low levels of blast overpressure in rats, reducing the extent of intracranial pressure increase and cognitive function impairment. AF-rich egg yolk powder improved health status in children suffering acute and chronic diarrhoea, reducing the frequency and increasing the consistency of stools. This kind of functional food could be used for prophylaxis in populations exposed to a high risk of morbidity and mortality caused by diarrhoea and as a complementary therapy in patients affected by chronic intestinal inflammatory disease to improve well-being. In pig husbandry AF-inducing diets, owing to their antisecretory activity and anti-inflammatory action, are a suitable option as an alternative to antibiotic growth promoters to counteract post-weaning diarrhoea.

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*Corresponding author: Dr Filippo Rossi, fax +39 0523 599259, email
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