ImmunoWall®: Promotes Animal Health and Food Safety

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In the last few years, several alternatives to antibiotics have been tested and used commercially in the animal industry. However, several factors relating to animal metabolism must be considered to obtain the best cost/benefit from an alternative. Among these alternatives, ImmunoWall® stands out because it is a yeast cell wall product with a considerably thicker cell wall, which is highly concentrated in β-glucans (> 35%), while still offering good levels of mannan-oligosaccharide, MOS (~20%).

The mannan-oligosaccharide is known for its capacity to agglutinate pathogens. It will prevent pathogen colonisation in the gut as it offers a binding site to harmful bacteria that possess type 1 fimbriae present in the intestinal tract. Because the β-glucans are indigestible, the “trapped” bacteria will be excreted together with the faecal material. It is important to highlight that, to reach its full functionality; the yeast cell walls must have a low digestibility in the intestine. Beta-glucans are the indigestible portion of the yeast cell wall (YCW); thus, the higher the β-glucan concentration, the lower the digestibility of a YCW. This is what makes ImmunoWall® a unique solution on the market.

Contamination by pathogens, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli, is a reality in animal production. Beyond animal health and economic losses, the major concern is the possible transmission of pathogens to the consumer through contaminated meat or egg products. Thus, an effective pathogen control program to ensure food safety is essential. In this context, ImmunoWall® has demonstrated a high capacity to agglutinate pathogens, significantly reducing their presence in eggs and meat.

Also, the β-glucans present in ImmunoWall can modulate the immune response of the animals. They are natural and effective stimulants of the innate immune system, and when phagocytic cells are in contact with β-glucans, these cells are stimulated and cytokines are produced. The production of cytokines will trigger a “chain reaction,” inducing a higher immune status of the animals, enabling them to fight against opportunistic infections. One of these reactions of the immune system is the increase in the number of goblet cells that are responsible for mucus production. With the increased production and release of mucus in the intestinal lumen, the mucosa (protective barrier of the villi and medium that allows the action of several enzymes) is increased, resulting in greater protection for the intestinal cells and villi.

This immune response is especially meaningful in animals in reproductive phases, early growth stages, under stress or in a challenging environment (such as infected litter). ImmunoWall® acts as a prophylactic agent, increasing animal resistance, minimising losses in performance and high mortality rates and in a highly challenging environment, as in intensive animal production, strengthening the immune system is the key to higher productivity gains.

Several trials have been performed to prove the benefits of ImmunoWall® on gut health and animal health. A research trial conducted by Alcantara et al. (2015a, b), studying piglets post-weaned infected with E. coli, showed that the group supplemented with ImmunoWall® decreased diarrhoea frequency and jejunal and faecal E. coli counts and improved intestinal integrity 14 days after the challenge (Table 2).

Parameter Baseline Day 7 Day 14
Control IMW Control IMW
Mucosal thickness 15.231 15.421a 13.981a 13.821a 16.061a
Crypt depth 5.141 7.192a 7.022b 6.962b 7.472a
Villous length 9.921 7.842a 6.602b 6.632b 6.772a
Villous width 2.071 3.562a 3.222a 3.062a 3.592a
Surface area 87.601 95.101a 71.241b 69.961b 81.131a
* E. coli was inoculated (9.8 X 108 cfu/mL) on the first day of the experiment. **Values with different letters are significantly different at the 95% confidence level. 1, 2 – significance compared to the time of slaughter and compared to baseline. a, b – significance compared between treatments in each slaughter day.

Piglets supplemented with ImmunoWall® had significant (P < 0.05) increases in mucosa thickness (16%) as well as villus length (7.3%), width (2.1%), and surface area (16%) when compared with the control group. We also took SEM photos of the intestine sections of piglets (Figs. 3 and 4) and confirmed a higher presence of mucus and an improvement in villus surface integrity in the ImmunoWall®-supplemented animals.

Figure 3. SEM photographs of intestinal sections showing differences between the treatments at 7 days post-challenge.  

Figure 4. SEM photographs of intestinal sections showing differences between the treatments at 14 days post-challenge.

Based on SEM photos, the ImmunoWall® group appeared to have less erosion in villi apices and a better microvilli surface when compared to the control group at 7 and 14 days post-challenge. We also observed a few rod-shaped bacteria attached to the surface. This confirms the decrease in E. coli count in the jejunum (-33%) and faeces (-66%).

The concern about the quality of ingredients and additives used in the animal feed is a global and irreversible trend, considering that the final consumer is becoming more aware of the relationship between “nutrition and health.” ImmunoWall®, besides being a natural ingredient, is proven to be a successful solution at low dosages to improve both gut health and food safety, resulting in a great cost/benefit.

Posted in 31 July of 2019