“IMPROVED MILBOND-TX® PROMOTES INTESTINAL HEALTH”
Serendipity” is often defined as making a beneficial unexpected discovery while investigating and searching for other things. Such was the case a decade ago at the University Of Florida (USA) while researchers were investigating the safety of Improved Milbond-TX (IMTX) when added to broiler and laying hen diets at higher than recommended concentrations. During the broiler studies researchers reported that excreta of birds fed a diet containing IMTX had less moisture than excreta from control birds fed no IMTX. Also, the “dryness” of the excreta could be easily identified visually by all individuals who were asked to evaluate the excreta for dryness. At the end of the study several birds from each dietary treatment were killed and the intestinal tract was opened longitudinally along its entire length. Visual observations of the tract’s inner surface indicated it was extremely healthy and looked as if mucus was more abundant than that observed in the tract of control birds. This observation of a very healthy tract that seemed to have more mucus was reported by the researchers to Milwhite, Inc. along with their final research report of the IMTX safety studies. Thus, this simple unexpected observation prompted Milwhite, Inc. to initiate research to determine whether IMTX was indeed promoting better intestinal health. The three published articles listed below provided the data in 2012, 2013 and 2014 from the University of Illinois (USA) that clearly documented, respectively, that IMTX was, indeed, supporting intestinal health by alleviating diarrhea of weaned pigs challenged with a pathogenic E. coli, increasing intestinal goblet cell size and number thus, enhancing intestinal barrier integrity of pigs challenged with E. coli and stimulating positive changes in goblet cell function in broiler chicks challenged with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.
MUCUS AND INTESTINAL HEALTH
Goblet cells are mucus producing cells that are found all along the intestinal tract in close association with other cells located on each villus. Mucus has numerous essential functions, but one of the most important is its ability to serve as an intestinal barrier as it protects against fungi, bacteria and viruses as well as noxious agents that might possibly be in the intestinal lumen. Mucus is one of the immune system’s first lines of defense associated with the intestinal tract since anything consumed must come into contact with mucus. Mucus also is the location of a major protective immune system antibody known as IgA that neutralizes bacteria trapped within the mucus. The functional properties of mucus are associated with its thick, slippery, slimy, viscous, gel-like physical characteristics that are responsible for its ability to coat the epithelial surface of the intestinal tract. The gel-like nature of mucus is a property resulting from the many sugars in its structure. Simply, mucus is a complex composed of a protein core (backbone) to which individual sugars is attached. This complex is also associated with inorganic salts within its structure. Thus, this complex is commonly referred to as a “glycosylated protein” (i.e., glycoprotein) known as “mucin” and there are several different glycoproteins (mucins) associated with mucus. It is the sugars that are coating (surrounding) the protein core that are responsible for the high water holding capacity since they attract water molecules. Thus, mucus lubricates the intestinal surface and protects the underlying epithelial cells. Mucus is not static and is constantly being sloughed from the surface of the intestine along with the numerous bacteria, viruses and any noxious substances trapped within the mucus. When new mucus replaces the sloughed mucus this provides a very important protective mechanism for the intestine since mucus is constantly covering and protecting the underlying epithelial cells from unwanted attachment of bacterial pathogens.
RESEARCH WITH CLAYS
Of the three publications cited below involving IMTX, the publication of Almeida et. al., (2014) is the most significant because it provides data which possibly explains the mechanism(s) of how a specific smectite clay promotes enteric health which was documented in the 2012 and 2013 publications from their laboratory. In their 2014 study, these authors specifically designed in-vivo and in-vitro experiments with the objective of testing the beneficial effects of using three different clays in diets of young broiler chicks that had been challenged with pathogenic Salmonella. Each clay was added to the diet at a concentration of 0.3% and identified as smectite A, smectite B and zeolite. Smectite A was IMTX. Results indicated that each clay was able to restore the loss in growth performance of the Salmonella-challenged chicks.
However, only the smectite A clay was able to promote changes in goblet cell function and size and be a possible mechanism of action of this specific smectite clay (IMTX) in promoting a strengthening of the intestinal mucosal barrier.
Synthesis of a goblet cell’s proteins that are associated with intestinal barrier protection first requires activation (turning on) of protein encoding genes. Almeida and coworkers (2014) reported that IMTX was the only clay that activated genes associated with the synthesis of a goblet cell protein specifically responsible for maintaining the intestinal mucosal defense barrier. This protein is known as RELMß (RELM-beta). Also, IMTX promoted the synthesis and secretion of another protein known as MUC2 (Mucin 2) which is quantitatively the most important of the mucin proteins responsible for intestinal barrier health. As pointed out by these authors, these data provide evidence that some, but not all, clays help improve intestinal barrier function of chicks during an enteric infection. From the data collected in numerous previous experiments and those data reported by the authors cited below, it should be obvious that IMTX is a unique clay-based product that falls into the category as being classified as a “privileged” feed additive. IMTX has proven to be a safe effective mycotoxin binder in the lumen of the intestinal tract while at the same time provides direct benefits to intestinal health by strengthening the mucosal defense barrier. In the next issue of Milwhite’s Journal the authors will explain, in an easy to understand manner, the cellular mechanisms involved in how IMTX is promoting intestinal health by promoting gene expression and synthesis of the MUC2 and RELMß mucin proteins.
The information presented in this issue of Milwhite’s Journal was compiled by Dr. Orlando Osuna, Director of Health Services at Milwhite, Inc. and Dr. Richard Miles, Professor Emeritus, Univ.of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
Song, M., Y. Liu, J.A. Soares, T.M. Che, O. Osuna, C.W. Maddox and J.E. Pettigrew. 2012. Dietary clays alleviate diarrhea of weaned pigs. J. Animal Sci. 90:345-360.
Almeida, J.A.S., Y. Liu, M. Song, J.J. Lee, H. R. Gaskins, C. Wolfgang Maddox, O. Osuna and J.E. Pettigrew. 2013. Escherichia coli challenge and one type of smectite alter intestinal barrier of pigs. J. Animal Science and Biotechnology 4:52.
Almeida J.A.S., N.P. Ponnuraj, J.J. Lee, P. Utterback, H.R. Gaskins, R.N. Dilger, and J.E. Pettigrew. 2014. Effects of dietary clays on performance and intestinal mucus barrier of broiler chicks challenged with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurim and on goblet cell function in vitro. Poultry Science 93:839:847.