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Comparative effect of thymol or its glucose conjugate, thymol-β-d-glucopyranoside, on Campylobacter in avian gut contents

Sharon V. R. Epps, Roger B. Harvey, J. Allen Byrd, Branko T. Petrujkić, Ivana Sedej, Ross C. Beier, Timothy D. Phillips, Michael E. Hume, Robin C. Anderson, David J. Nisbet
Journal of environmental science and health 2015 v.50 no.1 pp. 55-61
Campylobacter jejuni, absorption, chickens, encapsulation, environmental health, food animals, food pathogens, gastrointestinal system, glucose, glycosides, humans, oral administration, poultry meat, slaughterhouses, thymol
Campylobacter jejuni is an important human food-borne pathogen that can contaminate meat and poultry during processing. Consequently, strategies are sought to reduce the carriage of C. jejuni in food animals before they arrive at the abattoir. Thymol is a natural product that reduces survivability of Campylobacter in vitro , but its rapid absorption from the proximal alimentary tract limits its bactericidal efficacy in vivo . Thymol-β- d -glucopyranoside is more resistant to absorption than free thymol, but its administration to chickens has not been reported. In the present studies, 1 mM thymol-β- d -glucopyranoside was shown to exhibit near equal anti- Campylobacter activity as 1 mM thymol when incubated anaerobically in avian crop or cecal contents in vitro , resulting in reductions of 1.10–2.32 log ₁₀ colony forming units mL ⁻¹ in C. jejuni concentrations after 24 h incubation. In a follow-up live animal study, oral administration of thymol-β- d -glucopyranoside, but not free thymol, significantly lowered (>10-fold) recovery of Campylobacter from the crop of market-aged broilers when compared to placebo-treated controls (n = 6 broilers/treatment). Neither thymol-β- d -glucopyranoside nor thymol affected recovery of Campylobacter from cecal contents of the treated broilers. These results indicate that rapid absorption or passage of free thymol from the crop precluded its anti- Campylobacter activity at this site and throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract. Conversely, lower recovery of Campylobacter from the crop of birds treated with thymol-β- d -glucopyranoside indicates this conjugate was retained and able to be hydrolyzed to biologically active free thymol at this site as intended, yet was not sufficiently protected to allow passage of efficacious amounts of the intact glycoside to the lower gut. Nevertheless, these results warrant further research to see if higher doses or encapsulation of thymol-β- d -glucopyranoside or similar glycosides may yield an efficacious additive to reduce carriage of Campylobacter as well as other pathogens throughout the avian gut.