Widespread antimicrobial use in farm animals has contributed to the emergence of antimicrobial resistant microbes, which can negatively affect public health, due to an increased incidence of treatment failure. A typical example and well-recognized veterinary health problem is early-life coccidiosis in poultry, caused by protozoan parasites Eimeria. Eimeria-induced intestinal disease predisposes for overgrowth by harmful gut bacteria such as Clostridium. This results in necrotic enteritis, which is one of the most occurring bacterial enteric diseases of poultry requiring antibacterial treatment.
Novel control strategies for Eimeria infections are important to reduce preventive and therapeutic antimicrobial treatments. Prebiotic carbohydrates are considered promising alternative strategies for antimicrobials to control intestinal disease and promote a mucosal immune fitness. Studies have shown beneficial effects of mannan-, arabinoxylan- or xylo-oligosaccharides in Eimeria-infected broilers. These products have great potential, but knowledge on the mode-of-action is still limited and more work is necessary to make them applicable for practical use in the field.
In this project we aim to develop an in vitro workflow to evaluate anti-infective and immune-fitness promoting effects of oligosaccharides with Eimeria infections as model antigen. To this end, we will develop co-cultures of intestinal organoids and immune cells and use this in vitro system to asses the effect of oligosaccharides on intestinal barrier and immune functions in presence and absence of intestinal pathogens such as Eimeria.
This evaluation of possible effects of oligosaccharides on intestinal barrier and intestinal immune functions will provide an in vitro tool that can be used to asses gut health-promoting effects of oligosaccharides and may eventually lead to novel compounds that can be used in the field to to improve broiler gut health.