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Effect of zinc oxide sources and dosages on gut microbiota and integrity of weaned piglets

Wang, Wei, Van Noten, Noémie, Degroote, Jeroen, Romeo, Agathe, Vermeir, Pieter, Michiels, Joris
Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 2019 v.103 no.1 pp. 231-241
Escherichia coli, alkaline phosphatase, antibiotic resistance, coliform bacteria, diet, digesta, electrical resistance, enzyme activity, growth performance, intestinal microorganisms, intestinal mucosa, messenger RNA, piglets, pollution, small intestine, swine feeding, weaning, zinc, zinc oxide
Zinc oxide (ZnO) supplied at pharmacological dosage in diets of weaned piglets improves growth performance. However, it causes environmental contamination and induces bacterial antibiotic resistance, yet this practice is debated. The effects on gut microbiota and integrity in weaned piglets of conventional ZnO at nutritional and pharmacological dosage (110 and 2,400 mg/kg Zn, respectively) were compared to an alternative ZnO source at 110 and 220 mg/kg Zn. Each of the four treatments was applied to four pens (two piglets/pen; weaning age, 20 days) for 15 days, and piglets were sampled on day 15 to determine indices of gut integrity. Feeding conventional ZnO at 2,400 mg/kg Zn reduced coliforms and Escherichia coli in distal small intestine as compared to conventional ZnO at 110 mg/kg (−1.7 and −1.4 log₁₀ cfu/g, respectively), whereas the alternative ZnO reduced only coliforms, irrespective of dosage (−1.6 to −1.7 log₁₀ cfu/g). Transepithelial electrical resistance of distal small intestinal mucosa was higher for pigs fed the alternative ZnO source as compared with groups fed 110 mg/kg Zn of conventional ZnO, in line with a trend for higher gene expression of claudin‐1 and zona occludens‐1. Interestingly, the alternative ZnO source at 110 and 220 mg/kg Zn increased intestinal alkaline phosphatase gene transcript as compared to conventional ZnO at 110 mg/kg Zn, whereas the alternative ZnO source at 110 mg/kg Zn exhibited higher Zn concentrations in mucosa (2,520 μg/g) as compared to conventional ZnO at 110 mg/kg Zn (1,211 μg/g). However, assessing alkaline phosphatase activity, no significant effects were found. In conclusion, the alternative ZnO reduced digesta Enterobacteriaceae numbers and improved gut integrity, albeit similar or better, depending on the dosage, to the effects of pharmacological dosage of conventional ZnO.