Phytobiologics Delivers True Botanical Immunity
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In living plants, polyphenols are central to the instigation of redoxigenic plant immunity (RPI), the natural biochemical mechanism that plants have evolved in order to defend against physical or microbial assault. When plant cells are ruptured, resident polyphenols mix with intracellular oxidants and enzymes, forming molecules that aggressively bind to proteins and other biopolymers to seal damaged tissues, stop proliferation of microbes, and neutralize virulence factors of pathogens.
Digestion of viable plant cells rich in polyphenols includes a rich source of reactive oxygen species (ROS), oxygen ions and peroxides produced and stored in plant cytoplasm. Phytobiologics deliver a stable, rich source of this polyphenol-ROS immune augmenting duo. In plant cells, production and presence of ROS has direct antimicrobial actions, such as strengthening host cell walls through cross-linking of glycoproteins, lipid peroxidation and membrane damage and inducing intracellular signaling pathways that mediate the activation of defense genes. Since the receptors on the plasma membrane of plants that recognize pathogens are similar to components found in the innate immune system of animals, there may be downstream signaling components common to both.
Redoxigenic plant immunity can support the immune systems of growing pigs via four routes of activity, which may be present singly or work cooperatively:
1. Inhibition of toxic compounds; 2. Inhibition of microbial growth; 3. Disruption of inflammatory signal pathways; and/or 4. Wound healing/protection of tissue.
Inhibition of toxic compounds. Based upon the rapid resolution of scour/diarrhea documented in both animal and human studies following the ingestion of phytobiologic solutions, binding of bacterial toxins appears to be central to the effect. Within the cell walls of Gram-negative bacteria resides a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) complex, termed “endotoxin,” that elicits an inflammatory response by the host. Since the major component of endotoxin is LPS, a phytobiologic agent that interferes with the adhesion of LPS to target receptors could help modulate the gut health and reduce gut damage. Recent research has noted that the binding of LPS increases as the concentration of a phytobiologic solution increases until levels of interference that would reduce availability of endotoxins in the system are achieved.
Inhibition of microbial growth. Redoxigenic plant immunity can also support the immune system by reducing the proliferation of bacteria and other pathogens. Polyphenols and other phytobiologic compounds have been noted to inhibit the proliferation of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria with minimal inhibitory concentrations as low as 3.9 µl/mL. Such low inhibitory concentrations are due to increased bioactivity when polyphenols are coupled with ROS.
Disruption of inflammatory signal pathways. Interference of the inflammatory cascade is a central role of many phytobiologic agents. For example, epigallocatechin gallate, the most abundant polyphenolic metabolite present in green tea, modifies the nuclear factor kB (NFKB) by inhibiting interleukin-1ß proinflammatory signal transduction and interleukin-8 gene expression. In addition, research has reported that phytobiologics inhibit the production of the inflammatory mediators interleukin-8, nitric oxide, and prostaglandin E2.
Quorum sensing by bacteria is reduced substantially in the presence of several phytobiologics, which inhibit autoinducer-1 signaling, swarm motility, and biofilm formation of several bacterial pathogens. Blocking the production of these mediators may explain the rapid resolution of acute intestinal upset reported in both animal and human clinical studies where phytobiologic solutions have been consumed. Wound healing/protection of tissue. In addition to disruption of activation of NFKB, research has noted that phytobiologic agents can block infiltration of CD8+ T cells into specific sites of inflammation.
Antimicrobial agents may eliminate pathogens, but over time some bacteria mutate and develop resistance to these antimicrobial agents. In contrast, phytobiologic agents eliminate bacteria by mechanical impairment. Such mechanism is difficult to be overcome by bacteria and is unlikely to be invoked or selected for expression relevant to antibiotic resistance.
The data to date suggest that phytobiologic agents have the potential to limit infection and inflammation by blocking/removing toxins, inhibiting quorum sensing, curtailing microbial growth, disrupting inflammatory signal pathways, and augmenting wound healing; thus, reducing the digestive disturbances and promoting the intestinal homeostasis in both pre- and post-weaned piglets on commercial pig units. With ever-increasing restrictions on the use of antibiotics to improve piglet health and performance, alternative solutions derived from natural sources, phytobiologics, may contribute to gut health of pigs and sustainable efficiency in productivity of pig herds.
Source: Paper on “Phytobiologics – Using redoxigenic plant immunity to support the immune system in pigs.”
Author: Ching Ching Wu, DVM, PhD