The effect ofEimeria maximainfection on the expression of amino acid and sugar transporters aminopeptidase, as well as the di- and tri-peptide transporter PepT1, is not solely due to decreased feed intake

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Coccidiosis caused by Eimeria in poultry is endemic to poultry operations and results in decreased feed intake, diarrhea, and decreased weight gain. The goal was to determine the effect of Eimeria maxima infection on the expression of genes that encode peptide and amino acid transporters (AATs), and also to determine whether decreased feed intake contributes to the change in gene expression by including a pair-fed group of broilers. Three groups of male Ross broilers: 1) not infected, 2) infected, and 3) not infected pair-fed groups were used. Chicks were infected with 1,000 oocysts of E. maxima at 21 d of age. Feed consumption was obtained daily, and at d 0, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 14 post-infection (PI), 6 birds were euthanized, and a portion of the jejunum was removed for qRT-PCR. Infected birds had significantly decreased feed consumption between d 6 to 9 PI. At d 7 PI infected birds had a 45% reduction in weight gain, and pair-fed birds had a 32% reduction in weight gain. The feed conversion ratio at d 7 PI of infected birds was 2.2 while that of pair-fed birds was 1.7, compared to 1.5 in uninfected birds. Growth parameters were more affected in infected birds than in pair-fed birds. By measuring expression levels of nutrient uptake and processing genes via qRT-PCR, it was determined that genes encoding proteins located at the brush border of the gut epithelium were affected by infection as well as change in feed intake. The expression of AATs B°AT, b°,+AT, EAAT3, and PepT1 in infected birds decreased sharply at the height of infection; however, in birds that were pair fed, an increase in expression of b°,+AT, and PepT1 was observed, and little change was seen in expression of B°AT and EAAT3. In summary, the changes in expression of digestive enzymes and nutrient transporters are distinct between coccidia-infected birds compared to healthy pair-fed birds.

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