Following the EU-wide prohibition of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal nutrition, interest has increased in alternatives such as probiotics and zinc as feed additives that enhance performance and health of farm animals.
In piglet rearing empirical studies have shown positive effects of such feed additives on performance, such as daily weight gain and feed conversion or a decrease in the incidence of diarrhea. However, the underlying mechanisms are still unclear.
The aim of our group is to analyze the effects of probiotics and zinc on epithelial transport properties and barrier integrity in the porcine gastrointestinal tract.
The effect of probiotics on barrier function of the intestine, the inflammatory response of the mucosa, and underlying signaling pathways are examined. In experiments with zinc, the secretory and absorptive capacity of intestinal epithelia will be analyzed along with an identification of signaling pathways mediating protective effects against infections.
Investigations are carried out using electrophysiological methods such as the Ussing chamber technique, cell culture, molecular biology and microbiological methods.