Effects of dietary supplementation with enzymatically treatedArtemisia annuaon growth performance, intestinal morphology, digestive enzyme activities, immunity, and antioxidant capacity of heat-stressed broilers

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The gastrointestinal tract is considered as one of the main target organs affected by heat stress. Phytogenic feed additives containing phenolics and flavonoids can improve the resistance of broilers to heat stress. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of dietary supplementation with enzymatically treated Artemisia annua (EA) on growth performance, intestinal morphology, digestive enzyme activities, immunity and antioxidant capacity of broilers challenged with heat stress. One hundred and forty-four 21-day-old male Arbor Acres broilers were randomly distributed into 3 treatments: 1) non-challenged control (CON); 2) heat-stress-challenged control (HS); and 3) heat-stress-challenged group + 1 g EA/kg diet (HS-EA). From 22 to 41 d, broilers in the CON group were housed at 22 ± 1°C, the HS and HS-EA groups, in which broilers were raised at 34 ± 1°C for 8 h (0900-1700 h) and the temperature for the rest time was the same as that of the CON group. The EA supplementation alleviated the compromised body weight gain and intestinal morphology impairment caused by heat stress challenge (P < 0.05). The EA attenuated heat-stress-induced decreased intestinal lipase, trypsin and total superoxide dismutase activities, and reduced intestinal secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) and IgG concentrations (P < 0.05). The EA inclusion prevented the elevation of intestinal malondialdehyde content and reduction of intestinal glutathione concentration induced by heat stress challenge (P < 0.05). The intestinal mRNA abundances of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2, heme oxygenase 1, glutathione peroxidase, gamma-glutamyl cysteine ligase larger catalytic subunit and gamma-glutamyl cysteine ligase smaller modulator subunit in heat-stressed broilers were increased in response to dietary EA treatment (P < 0.05). In conclusion, dietary supplementation of 1 g/kg EA could alleviate heat-stress-induced compromised growth performance and intestinal damage of broilers.

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