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Thymol in the intestinal tract of broiler chickens after sustained administration of thyme essential oil in feed

Oceľová, Vladimíra, Chizzola, Remigius, Battelli, Giovanna, Pisarcikova, Jana, Faix, Stefan, Gai, Francesco, Placha, Iveta
Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 2019 v.103 no.1 pp. 204-209
Thymus vulgaris, absorption, bioactive compounds, biotransformation, broiler chickens, broiler feeding, cecum, colon, digestive tract, duodenum, essential oils, feed additives, feed supplements, hybrids, ileum, jejunum, medicinal properties, metabolites, nutritional intervention, thyme, thymol
Plant compounds occurring in phytogenic feed additives are involved in different pharmacological activities in the animal organism. Since the digestive tract acts as a first line of defence against foreign compounds, it is necessary to outline its response to dietary supplementation with bioactive plant components. Little information is available on the bioactivity of thymol as the main bioactive compound of Thymus vulgaris L. essential oil (TEO). The main objective of the present study was to provide a detailed view of the concentrations of thymol in plasma and the content of individual intestinal segments (duodenum, jejunum, ileum, caecum and colon) of broiler chickens after 4 weeks of dietary supplementation with different TEO concentrations. 32 one‐day old Ross 308 hybrid broilers were randomly divided into four dietary treatment groups (0.00%, 0.01%, 0.05%, 0.1% w/w of TEO in the diet). Thymol concentrations in the duodenal chyme presented around 7% on average from the thymol amount administered in the feed. A significantly increased thymol amount was observed after 0.1% TEO addition to the diet compared with 0.01% TEO enrichment in the duodenal wall and gut content of jejunum, ileum, caecum and colon (p < 0.05). Thymol levels in the colon were significantly higher than in the ileum and about 1.7 times higher on average than those in the caecum. Significant coefficient of correlation was observed between thymol concentrations in plasma and feed, gut content of all intestinal segments as well as duodenal wall. Our results point to intensive thymol absorption in the initial sections of the digestive tract. In the current study, the role of intestine in biotransformation of thymol was observed, and it would be desirable to investigate whether thymol itself or thymol metabolites are responsible for beneficial effects in intestine.