"All disease begins in the gut"
Hippocrates, 460-370 BC
Welcome to Gut Health Consultancy
We work with clients to implement cost-effective animal production strategies that promote gut health and enable antibiotics to be used more judiciously. In addition, we work with companies to evaluate their additives for commercial application and market positioning. We have years of experience and fundamental understanding in this area, having worked in technical roles within animal health companies, and in actual live production. We work discreetly with clients and companies to achieve their goals in a cost-effective manner.
Contact us today to help achieve your goals.
What we do
It has long been recognised that the intestine plays a critical role in health and disease. Gut health is a term that is frequently used to portray the state of the intestine and has become widely used in the context of research activities relating to antibiotic growth promoter (AGP) replacement.
- Broom, L. J., and Kogut, M. H. 2017. Inflammation: friend or foe for animal production? Poultry Science, pex314 doi.org/10.3382/ps/pex314
- Kogut, M. H., Yin, X., Yuan, J., & Broom, L. J. 2017. Gut health in poultry. CAB Reviews, 12:31www.cabi.org/cabreviews/
- Broom, L. J. 2017. The sub-inhibitory theory for antibiotic growth promoters. Poultry Science, 96, 3104-3108 doi.org/10.3382/ps/pex114
Research article of the week
Ancient immune responses, the key to future success? Exploiting rapidly responding innate immune responses has become of great interest to scientists seeking to combat antimicrobial resistance and/or promote animal health and performance. However, whilst critical, innate responses can be costly in terms of collateral damage and nutrient usage, but recent and current research is helping to identify specific approaches/pathways to enhance pathogen destruction and minimise negative consequences for the host. Work in mice has shown that targeting/inhibiting certain (transcription) factors regulating interferon production (e.g. interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF-7)) can protect against infection and tissue damage (Puthia et al., 2016). Similarly, a UK-based consortium was recently awarded £3.5m to develop understanding to achieve maximal bacterial killing by innate (phagocytic) cells with minimal tissue damage (http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/media/news/160519-1/). In addition, the importance of stimulating innate immunity for effective vaccine responses is well understood and continues to be explored (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01563/full). 336ra59
Puthia et al., 2016; Science Translational Medicine, 8:336ra59 stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/336/336ra59
What do we mean by gut health?
Gut health is a term that is often used but is typically not well defined. Gut health can be defined as a term to describe the functioning of the intestinal immune (including barrier function) and metabolic systems of an animal.
Why the focus on gut health?
For many years, AGPs were seen as the gold standard of feed additives used to promote animal health, welfare and productivity. Even if fed at sub-therapeutic concentrations, AGPs are thought to enhance gut health through modulation of the intestinal microbiota and function, and immune response, potentially including direct anti-inflammatory effects. However, the use of AGPs is rapidly losing acceptance across the world due to concerns about antibiotic resistant bacteria. Reduced use of AGPs invariably compromises gut health, leading to greater disease problems and lost productivity.
The intestine and the immune system
It is estimated that approximately 70% of an animal's immune system is located in, or linked, to the intestine. The intestine plays an essential role in enabling the digestion and absorption of nutrients, while preventing the passage of undesirable foreign material (e.g. microbes) from the external environment. The clearest demonstration of the relationship between the gut microbiota and the intestine is that germ-free animals have underdeveloped mucosal immunological tissues compared to conventional animals (Berg and Savage, 1975). Once mucosal barriers have been breached, foreign material will first encounter and be detected by intraepithelial leukocytes, which initiates a pro-inflammatory immune response. The pro-inflammatory, acute phase response is considered to have the greatest metabolic cost and leads to muscle catabolism and suppressed feed intake, and thus reduced growth and feed conversion efficiency.
The optimum robustness of the innate immune response to prevent disease and promote maximal animal performance remains unclear. There is evidence that breeding for greater, more efficient, productive parameters has resulted in animals investing less in immune tissue and competence, and thus these animals may be more susceptible to pathogen challenge and disease (Van der Most et al., 2010). However, some pathogens (e.g. Eimeria) are associated with enhancing anti-inflammatory and/or suppressing pro-inflammatory mediators, which suggests that dampening the pro-inflammatory response is a strategy used by at least some pathogens to circumvent the immune system (Arendt et al., 2016). In the absence of AGPs, a much better understanding of the intestinal environment, immune system and host metabolism are imperative. Understanding, and appropriately applying, feed additives and strategies that truly promote gut health, animal welfare and productivity remains essential.