Histological parameters to evaluate intestinal health on broilers challenged withEimeriaand Clostridium perfringenswith or without enramycin as growth promoter

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The maintenance of integrity of the gastrointestinal tract is an important aspect for animal productivity, since it is able to absorb nutrients more efficiently and serves as a barrier against microorganisms. To control agents detrimental to intestinal integrity, growth-promoting antibiotics (AGP) are used, which reduce the number of toxin-producing microorganisms in the intestinal lumen, acting as anti-inflammatory agents. There is a demand for restriction of use of AGP in animal feed, but there are few studies showing what parameters we should observe to search for alternative additives. The aim of this study was to establish histological parameters that explain the effect of enramycin as growth promoter on intestinal health in broilers challenged with Eimeria and Clostridium perfringens. The zootechnical performance and the histology by I See Inside (ISI) methodology were evaluated on liver and ileum samples. Chickens challenged without AGP have the worst BWG, FCR, and histological ISI score (ISI score 9) in the ileum compared to non-challenged (ISI score 5). The use of enramycin on challenged group significantly minimized the ISI score in the ileum at 21 and 28 d (ISI score 7.4 and 8.0, respectively) compared with the challenged group not fed with enramycin (ISI score 9.2 and 9.9, respectively), associated with reduced lamina propria thickness and inflammatory cell infiltration. We suggest these 2 histological parameters as a standard to compare products for gut health.

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