Interactive effects of dietary protein concentration and aflatoxin B1 on performance, nutrient digestibility, and gut health in broiler chicks

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A 20-day trial was conducted to determine the impact of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and dietary protein concentration on performance, nutrient digestibility, and gut health in broiler chicks. The 6 dietary treatments were arranged in a 2 × 3 factorial with 3 crude protein (CP) concentrations (16, 22, and 26%) with or without 1.5 mg/kg AFB1. Each diet was fed to 6 replicate cages (6 chicks per cage) from zero to 20 d of age. Endogenous N and amino acid loss were estimated from birds fed a N-free diet with or without 1.5 mg/kg AFB1. A significant interaction between AFB1 and CP concentration was observed for growth performance, where reduction of BW gain, feed intake, gain:feed ratio, and breast muscle weight by AFB1 were most profound in birds fed the 16%-CP diet, and were completely eliminated when birds were fed the 26%-CP diet (AFB1 by CP interaction; P ≤ 0.023). Similarly, AFB1 reduced serum albumin, total protein, and globulin concentrations in birds fed 16 and 22% CP diets, but not in those fed the 26%-CP (AFB1 by CP interaction; P ≤ 0.071). Gut permeability was increased in birds fed AFB1-contamiated diets as measured by serum lactulose/rhamnose ratio (main effect; P = 0.04). Additionally, AFB1 tended to increase endogenous N loss (P = 0.09), and significantly reduced apparent ileal digestible energy and standardized ileal N and amino acid digestibility in birds fed the 16%-CP diet, while birds fed higher dietary CP were not affected (AFB1 by CP interaction; P ≤ 0.01). Further, AFB1 increased the translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein (4EBP1), claudin1, and multiple jejunal amino acid transporters expression (main effect; P ≤ 0.04). Results from this study indicate that a 1.5 mg AFB1/kg diet significantly impairs growth, major serum biochemistry measures, gut barrier, endogenous loss, and energy and amino acid digestibility. Aflatoxicosis can be augmented by low dietary CP, while higher dietary CP completely eliminated the impairment of performance, serum proteins, and nutrient digestibility from aflatoxicosis in zero to 20 d broiler chicks.

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