Xantal Project: New modified carotenoids to face inflammatory intestinal disorders in weaned pigs
Preservation of gastrointestinal health is a key factor in intensive livestock production systems, with important implications on health, animal welfare and farms efficiency. In the case of swine production, the transition phase, which is the one followed piglet weaning, is a delicate phase of the production cycle due to the numerous challenges the animals must face, like sudden changes on feed presentation and social environment, that may produce intestinal disorders that lead to a high incidence of bacterial diarrheas.
Since the second half of the last century antibiotics were widely used as growth promoters thanks to its effects on intestinal physiology, feed conversion and growth of livestock. However, this practice was banned by the EU in 2006. Nevertheless, the removal of antibiotics as growth promoters has implied the rising use of antibiotics with therapeutical purposes due to the increasing incidence of infectious diseases. Consequently, the current situation is highly influenced by the concern associated to the emergence of antibiotics resistances in several bacterial species, supposing an important public health problem.
Xantal’s project (RD17-1-0094), co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund with the managing of ACCIÓ (Generalitat de Catalunya), is focused on the search of natural and effective alternatives to the use of antibiotics as growth promoters. The general objective of the project is to obtain and identify carotenoid derivatives with anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant properties to be used as functional ingredients in animal feeding in order to improve the gastrointestinal health. The carotenoid derivatives might represent innovative products with a high added value, no available in the present, and capable to give to natural carotenoids a different use beyond the pigmentation purposes to provide color to poultry eggs and meat.
During Xantal’s project execution, several enzymatic processes combined with physicochemical treatments (UV radiation) will be studied with the aim to modify the carotenoids and obtain derivatives with a higher anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant activity. On the other hand, the optimal encapsulation processes for the derivatives will be assessed too, in order to improve the stability of the bioactive compounds during feed pelleting and its release on gastrointestinal tract, apart from to establish formulation strategies and inclusion levels on swine diets. Finally, the anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant properties of the bioactive compounds will be evaluated using in vitro methodology (cell culture) and in vivo models (weaned piglets experimentally infected by pathogenic bacteria).