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INTERVIEW: MCFAs offer powerful, versatile tool to replace antibiotics in feed

tue, 8 nov 2016
Is it possible that, in turning away from the use of antibiotic growth promoters, the animal production industry will develop strategies that are arguably more effective in controlling pathogenic pressure? Nuscience's experience with medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) has convinced it that these substances may provide just such a blockbuster solution. According to Dr. Kobe Lannoo, Group Product Manager at Nuscience Group, MCFAs begin killing pathogens earlier in the digestive system than most other solutions, acting in the stomach rather than the intestines and causing less damage to the native microbiota of the animal. Indeed, by disrupting phospholipid bi-layers, they can even act upon certain viruses. And of course, there is no question of MCFAs contributing to the development of microbial resistance to a medically-important human treatment regime. In an interview with Feedinfo News Service, Dr. Lannoo uncovers the versatility of these substances and argues that their utilization in feed can permit producers to cut their use of antibiotics while ensuring that their protection against pathogens remains robust.

[Feedinfo News Service] Nuscience has been actively developing MCFA-based products for many years now. How has the understanding of this type of additives evolved over time?

[Dr. Kobe Lannoo] Our experience began in 2000, when we started working with medium chain triglycerides, leading to our first patent. We clearly obtained beneficial effects but needed high dosages to reach our goals. The lipase production at stomach level is too low to liberate the fatty acids from the glycerol backbone and activate them into free fatty acids. The next step in the development was the use of MCFA-salts. In comparison with the triglycerides, these salts are much more anti-bacterial at stomach level but have a soap taste as a negative side-effect leading to lower feed-intake. Finally we opted for the pure and multi-activated free medium chain fatty acids with high direct anti-microbial properties and no side-effects on feed intake. We have been working with this free form since 2006 under the brand name of Aromabiotic®, and since then a lot of synergistic combinations of MCFA’s with organic acids, prebiotics and other active ingredients have been launched to reduce the use of antibiotics all over the world.

[Feedinfo News Service] How do MCFAs differ from other types of organic acids used as animal feed additives?

[Dr. Kobe Lannoo] Most of the commonly used organic acids are only bacteriostatic by reducing the pH. MCFAs, however, are highly bactericidal in a very early stage, namely the stomach. MCFAs are the winner when it comes to destabilizing the bacterial cell membrane. This bactericidal effect protects animals against pathogens entering through the oral-faecal pathway. Moreover, MCFAs have the ability to lower the virulence of certain bacteria such as Clostridium and Salmonella. In the small intestine, MCFAs directly and indirectly result in longer villi and a better villi/crypt ratio, two important parameters to measure gut morphology. Ultimately MCFAs will improve immunity by inducing a higher quality of neutrophils, more specifically a lower percentage of apoptotic neutrophils, which means a stronger first line defense mechanism of the host.

[Feedinfo News Service] In what ways are MCFAs superior to the use of antibiotics?

[Dr. Kobe Lannoo] Besides the fact that there is no reported antibacterial resistance against Aromabiotic® and that no resistance is expected to develop, MCFAs have other advantages. Since their activity is at low pH (ie. in the stomach), they affect mainly the incoming pathogenic bacteria. The good microbiota, being mainly present in the small intestine (pH 6.5) will not suffer from this antibacterial activity. Most of the antibiotics don’t have a selective antibacterial activity and will therefore be detrimental for the microflora of the host. Moreover, a significant portion of antibiotics will be excreted into the environment, leading to adverse environmental issues. MCFAs on their hand, are sustainable products derived from nature and absorbed by the body.

[Feedinfo News Service] Beside their anti-bacterial qualities, are MCFAs effective against other non-bacterial pathogens?

[Dr. Kobe Lannoo] Field experiences showed that using Aromabiotic® could lead to a lower spreading of PRRS in piglets as well as sows. This encouraged us to expand our research on the antiviral effect of MCFAs. At the moment, promising in vitro studies show a direct antimicrobial activity against multiple encapsulated viruses. The capsule of the virus has a very similar structure to the bacterial membrane (phospho-lipid bilayer) which leads to the hypothesis that this capsule is destabilized in the same way as the bacterial membrane. A lot of the emerging diseases in animal husbandry are caused by encapsulated viruses such as PRRS, PEDv and Influenza. Furthermore researchers at the Kansas University looked for chemical substances preventing mitigation of PEDv through the feed. The conclusion of this research was that MCFAs were equally as successful as a commercially-available formaldehyde product. (Cochrane, R. A.; Dritz, S. S.; Woodworth, J. C.; Huss, A. R.; Stark, C. R.; Hesse, R. A.; Zhang, Jianqiang; Tokach, M. D.; Bai, J.; and Jones, C. K. (2015) "Evaluating Chemical Mitigation of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) in Swine Feed and Ingredients," Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports: Vol. 1: Iss. 7.)

[Feedinfo News Service] You have argued that MCFA-based solutions like Aromabiotic® can be useful against pathogens which enter the body through the lungs or tonsils, rather than those that are simply consumed. How does that work?

[Dr. Kobe Lannoo] This was proven in a review article at the University of Wageningen (2014). In this review researchers looked back at 14 years of trials with feed additives. Specifically they examined the effect on the amount of veterinary treatments against lung diseases and Streptococcus suis. Although a wide range of additives was screened, there was only one additive which significantly lowered these veterinary treatments, namely Aromabiotic®. Thanks to the activation of the neutrophils by MCFAs, it is also possible to see effects against air-borne diseases, Streptococcus or viruses.

[Feedinfo News Service] How important are MCFA-based solutions within the Nuscience portfolio? Can you tell me about their growth trajectory?

[Dr. Kobe Lannoo] There is no doubt that MCFAs are very important for the functional additive business of Nuscience with Aromabiotic® as the driver for this success. In addition to the pure MCFA product, the range has been extended with synergistic mixtures with other active ingredients. Besides this, we can also offer a full portfolio with a range of toxin binders (Vitafix®), digestibility enhancers (Vitazym®, Vitamul®) and antioxidants (Vitanox®) in our Health4U business unit.

Besides our Health4U business unit specialized in high level additives we also have a business unit called Nutrition4U, with a focus on young animal nutrition. This means that all these Health4U products are brought to the market directly, not only by a dedicated worldwide Health4U sales team but also through the innovative concepts of Nuscience’s Nutrition4U business unit. Nutrition4U offers a range of effective young animal nutrition concepts, custom-made premixes and high-performance concentrates.

[Feedinfo News Service] What questions regarding MCFAs are your R&D efforts currently focused on? What are some of the most exciting avenues of research ahead?

[Dr. Kobe Lannoo] The interesting journey of MCFA has only just begun. Currently we are further exploring the synergies between MCFA and other active ingredients, in an effort to improve the technical and financial results on the farm. We will be launching a brand new growth enhancing product for broilers at Eurotier. This is a combination product with MCFAs and essential oils and will reach the market under the brand name M-prove® poultry. More in depth information about this product will be given at the launch in Hannover. 

Source: Feedinfo News Service