Lysolecithin as feed additive enhances collagen expression and villus length in the jejunum of broiler chickens
Adding lysolecithin to feed has reportedly improved the performance of broiler chickens. Lysolecithin is generated by phospholipase catalyzed hydrolysis of lecithin. The enzymatic reaction converts various phospholipids into the corresponding lysophospholipids, with lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) one of the primary products. Here we compared supplementation with a commercial lysolecithin (Lysoforte®) with comparable levels of highly purified LPC for effects on broilers. Despite no differences in weight gain during the starter period, we discovered a significant increase in average villus length with lysolecithin and an increase in villus width with purified LPC. High-throughput gene expression microarray analyses revealed many more genes were regulated in the epithelium of the jejunum by lysolecithin compared to purified LPC. The most up-regulated genes and pathways were for collagen, extracellular matrix, and integrins. Staining sections of the jejunum with Picrosirius Red confirmed the increased deposition of collagen fibrils in the villi of broilers fed lysolecithin, but not purified LPC. Thus, lysolecithin elicits gene expression in the intestinal epithelium, leading to enhanced collagen deposition and villus length. Purified LPC alone as a supplement does not mimic these responses. Feed supplementation with lysolecithin triggers changes in the intestinal epithelium with the potential to improve overall gut health and performance.