The mucous layer that covers the intestinal absorptive surface acts as a barrier against bacterial translocation. The chicken gut contains a diverse bacterial population which interacts with the mucous layer, in this report, we studied the effect of changing the intestinal microbial populations on mucin dynamics by feeding 1-d-old chicks a control diet or that diet containing either antibiotic growth promoter (AGP) or a probiotic product for 14 d. Dietary AGP increased the proportions of Bifidobacterium species in the duodenum compared with the other groups. In AGP-fed chicks, the villous surface area was increased in the jejunum, goblet cell density was greater in the jejunum and ileum, and mucin glycoprotein levels in the duodenum were lower than in the other groups (P < 0.05). Feeding AGP increased the expression of mucin mRNA in the jejunum and ileum compared with controls. The dietary probiotic increased the proportion of Lactobacillus species in the ileum compared with the controls (P < 0.05) and significantly enlarged the goblet cell "cup" area throughout the small intestine compared with the other groups. Expression of mucin mRNA and the levels of mucin glycoprotein were greater in the jejunum of the probiotic-fed chicks compared with controls (P < 0.05). Neither the probiotic nor AGP treatments affected the thickness of the mucous adherent layer. These results indicate that both probiotic and AGP altered processes of mucin biosynthesis and/or degradation mediated via changes in the intestinal bacterial populations. These modifications in mucin dynamics influence gut function and health and may change nutrient uptake.
- Small intestine