Lactobacilli as Probiotics for Piglets
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  • Release Date: 09 Jul 2021
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • probiotics
  • lactobacilli
  • functional nutrition
  • diarrhoea prevention
  • intestinal health
  • weaned pig
Video Introduction

This video is adapted from 10.3390/ani11061766

In livestock farming, effective alternatives to antibiotics that are able to promote health and prevent pathologies are urgently required to tackle antibiotic resistance[1][2][3], and replacing and reducing antibiotic treatments is one of the main targets of European policies [4]. This became even more important after the removal from the market of zinc oxide (ZnO) as a veterinary therapeutic treatment [5][6]. This decision was taken due to the observed increase in heavy metal environmental pollution and scientific evidence showing that ZnO co-selects antibiotic-resistant bacteria [7][8]. ZnO has been used widely after the ban on antibiotics as a growth promoter over the last decade [6][9][10][11]. Alternatives to ZnO and antibiotics are thus required particularly during the weaning phase due to the high incidence of enteric disorders and multifactorial diseases such as post-weaning diarrhoea (PWD) [12][13]. The gastroenteric tract (GIT) is a complex environment where the mucosal chemical barrier, immune system, microbiota and epithelium all impact intestinal health [14][15]. Preserving intestinal health decreases the incidence of pathologies, optimises digestive processes and promotes animal performance. There is increased awareness regarding the role of diet, not only as a physiological requirement, but also in the enhancement of animal and human health and in the prevention of specific pathologies [16]. The modulation of intestinal microbiota by dietary approaches, such as the use of feed additives, is one of the most promising strategies to reduce the risk of pathologies in food-producing animals [17][18].
Probiotics are functional feed additives defined as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host” [19]. Their potential mechanisms of action affect the intestinal microbial ecology through the manipulation of microbiota that lower the luminal pH, the competitive inhibition of pathogen strains, the production of bacteriocins with antimicrobial proprieties and the stimulation of the host immune system [20]. Probiotic supplementation in animal diets helps prevent or treat a variety of intestinal disorders, although their mechanisms of actions are not completely known [21]. Lactic acid bacteria include over two-hundred species and subspecies of which Lactobacillus sp., Lactococcus sp., Spreptococcus sp. and Enterococcus sp. are used as probiotics for monogastric animals [22].
Lactobacillus plantarum is included in the European register of feed additives [8] as a preservative (1; a), silage additive (1; k), microorganism (1; k) and gut flora stabilizer for chickens (4; b). In several in vitro and in vivo studies, some strains of L. plantarum demonstrated a protective activity against epithelial intestinal barrier impairment, restoring the function of thigh junctions and reducing paracellular permeability [23][24]. In addition, L. plantarum CGMCC 1258 supplemented at 5 × 1010 CFU/kg showed its positive effect in weaned piglets challenged with Escherichia coli K88, inhibiting diarrhoea and improving zootechnical performance [25]. In parallel, Lactobacillus reuteri was included in the EU feed additive register as a microorganism (1; k) until its withdrawal in 2012 [8] due to a lack of the required documentation. This microorganism is not seen as being dangerous and no issues related to its safety were mentioned in the EU commission decision [26], since it is included in the Qualified Presumption of Safety (QPS) list of the European Union [27].
Lactobacillus reuteri I5007 has shown a potential to improve thigh junction expression in newborn piglets and has been found to have protective effects after lipo-polysaccharide (LPS)-induced stress in vitro [21]. L. reuteri strains TMW1.656 and LTH5794 produce reuteran which can decrease the adhesive capacity of ETEC E. coli [28][29]. However, several studies have shown the positive impact of various L. plantarum and L. reuteri strains on improving piglet performance, diarrhoea prevention, stress alleviation, immunity and microbiota modulation [29].
  1. Arsène, M.M.; Davares, A.K.; Andreevna, S.L.; Vladimirovich, E.A.; Carime, B.Z.; Marouf, R.; Khelifi, I. The use of probiotics in animal feeding for safe production and as potential alternatives to antibiotics. Vet. World 2021, 14, 319.
  2. Ng, W.J.; Shit, C.-S.; Ee, K.Y.; Chai, T.T. Plant Natural Products for Mitigation of Antibiotic Resistance. In Sustainable Agriculture Reviews 49; Springer: Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany, 2021; pp. 57–91.
  3. Tang, K.L.; Caffrey, N.P.; Nóbrega, D.B.; Cork, S.C.; Ronksley, P.E.; Barkema, H.W.; Polachek, A.J.; Ganshorn, H.; Sharma, N.; Kellner, J.D. Restricting the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals and its associations with antibiotic resistance in food-producing animals and human beings: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Planet. Health 2017, 1, e316–e327.
  4. Cormican, M.; Hopkins, S.; Jarlier, V.; Reilly, J.; Simonsen, G.; Strauss, R.; Vandenberg, O.; Zabicka, D.; Zarb, P.; Catchpole, M.; et al. ECDC, EFSA and EMA Joint Scientific Opinion on a list of outcome indicators as regards surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial consumption in humans and food-producing animals. EFSA J. 2017, 15.
  5. European Medicines Agency. EMA/394961/2017. European Medicines Agency, Questions and Answers on Veterinary Medicinal Products Containing Zinc Oxide to be Administered Orally to Food-Producing Species Outcome of a Referral Procedure under Article 35 of Directive 2001/82/EC (EMEA/V/A/118); EMA: London, UK, 2017.
  6. Hejna, M.; Onelli, E.; Moscatelli, A.; Bellotto, M.; Cristiani, C.; Stroppa, N.; Rossi, L. Heavy-Metal Phytoremediation from Livestock Wastewater and Exploitation of Exhausted Biomass. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 2239.
  7. Bonetti, A.; Tugnoli, B.; Piva, A.; Grilli, E. Towards Zero Zinc Oxide: Feeding Strategies to Manage Post-Weaning Diarrhea in Piglets. Animals 2021, 11, 642.
  8. EU Commission. Regulation EC 1831/2003. of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 22 September 2003 on Additives for Use in Animal Nutrition (Text with EEA Relevance); EU Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2003.
  9. Hejna, M.; Gottardo, D.; Baldi, A.; Dell’Orto, V.; Cheli, F.; Zaninelli, M.; Rossi, L. Nutritional ecology of heavy metals. Animal 2018, 12, 2156–2170.
  10. Hejna, M.; Moscatelli, A.; Onelli, E.; Baldi, A.; Pilu, S.; Rossi, L. Evaluation of concentration of heavy metals in animal rearing system. Ital. J. Anim. Sci. 2019, 18, 1372–1384.
  11. Hejna, M.; Moscatelli, A.; Stroppa, N.; Onelli, E.; Pilu, S.; Baldi, A.; Rossi, L. Bioaccumulation of heavy metals from wastewater through a Typha latifolia and Thelypteris palustris phytoremediation system. Chemosphere 2020, 241.
  12. Rossi, L.; Dell′Orto, V.; Vagni, S.; Sala, V.; Reggi, S.; Baldi, A. Protective effect of oral administration of transgenic tobacco seeds against verocytotoxic Escherichia coli strain in piglets. Vet. Res. Commun. 2014, 38, 39–49.
  13. Lu, C.W.; Wang, S.E.; Wu, W.J.; Su, L.Y.; Wang, C.H.; Wang, P.H.; Wu, C.H. Alternative antibiotic feed additives alleviate pneumonia with inhibiting ACE-2 expression in the respiratory system of piglets. Food Sci. Nutr. 2021, 9, 1112–1120.
  14. Chelakkot, C.; Ghim, J.; Ryu, S.H. Mechanisms regulating intestinal barrier integrity and its pathological implications. Exp. Mol. Med. 2018, 50, 1–9.
  15. Sarkar, A.; Yoo, J.Y.; Valeria Ozorio Dutra, S.; Morgan, K.H.; Groer, M. The association between early-life gut microbiota and long-term health and diseases. J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10, 459.
  16. Domínguez Díaz, L.; Fernández-Ruiz, V.; Cámara, M. The frontier between nutrition and pharma: The international regulatory framework of functional foods, food supplements and nutraceuticals. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 2020, 60, 1738–1746.
  17. Lallès, J.P.; Montoya, C.A. Dietary alternatives to in-feed antibiotics, gut barrier function and inflammation in piglets post-weaning: Where are we now? Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 2021, 114836.
  18. Tomičić, Z.; Čabarkapa, I.; Čolović, R.; Đuragić, O.; Tomičić, R. Salmonella in the feed industry: Problems and potential solutions. J. Agron. 2018, 22, 2019.
  19. Hori, T.; Matsuda, K.; Oishi, K. Probiotics: A Dietary Factor to Modulate the Gut Microbiome, Host Immune System, and Gut–Brain Interaction. Microorganisms 2020, 8, 1401.
  20. Guevarra, R.B.; Lee, J.H.; Lee, S.H.; Seok, M.J.; Kim, D.W.; Kang, B.N.; Johnson, T.J.; Isaacson, R.E.; Kim, H.B. Piglet gut microbial shifts early in life: Causes and effects. J. Anim. Sci. Biotechnol. 2019, 10, 1–10.
  21. Yang, F.; Wang, A.; Zeng, X.; Hou, C.; Liu, H.; Qiao, S. Lactobacillus reuteri I5007 modulates tight junction protein expression in IPEC-J2 cells with LPS stimulation and in newborn piglets under normal conditions. BMC Microbiol. 2015, 15, 1–11.
  22. Śliżewska, K.; Chlebicz-Wójcik, A.; Nowak, A. Probiotic Properties of New Lactobacillus Strains Intended to Be Used as Feed Additives for Monogastric Animals. Probiotics Antimicrob. Proteins 2021, 13, 146–162.
  23. Lee, C.S.; Kim, S.H. Anti-inflammatory and anti-osteoporotic potential of lactobacillus plantarum A41 and L. fermentum SRK414 as probiotics. Probiotics Antimicrob. Proteins 2020, 12, 623–634.
  24. Gao, Y.; Liu, Y.; Ma, F.; Sun, M.; Song, Y.; Xu, D.; Mu, G.; Tuo, Y. Lactobacillus plantarum Y44 alleviates oxidative stress by regulating gut microbiota and colonic barrier function in Balb/C mice with subcutaneous D-galactose injection. Food Funct. 2021, 12, 373–386.
  25. Yang, K.; Jiang, Z.; Zheng, C.; Wang, L.; Yang, X. Effect of Lactobacillus plantarum on diarrhea and intestinal barrier function of young piglets challenged with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli K88. J. Anim. Sci. 2014, 92, 1496–1503.
  26. EU Commission. Regulation EU 451/2012. COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) No 451/2012 on the Withdrawal from the Market of Certain Feed Additives Belonging to the Functional Group of Silage Additives (Text with EEA Relevance); EU Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2012.
  27. EFSA BIOHAZ Panel; Koutsoumanis, K.; Allende, A.; Alvarez-Ordonez, A.; Bolton, D.; Bover-Cid, S.; Chemaly, M.; Davies, R.; De Cesare, A.; Hilbert, F.; et al. The list of QPS status recommended biological agents for safety risk assessments carried out by EFSA. EFSA J. 2021.
  28. Chen, X.Y.; Woodward, A.; Zijlstra, R.T.; Gänzle, M.G. Exopolysaccharides synthesized by Lactobacillus reuteri protect against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli in piglets. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 2014, 80, 5752–5760.
  29. Hou, C.; Zeng, X.; Yang, F.; Liu, H.; Qiao, S. Study and use of the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri in pigs: A review. J. Anim. Sci. Biotechnol. 2015, 6, 14.
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Dell'anno, M.;  Rossi, L. Lactobacilli as Probiotics for Piglets. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 07 December 2023).
Dell'anno M,  Rossi L. Lactobacilli as Probiotics for Piglets. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed December 07, 2023.
Dell'anno, Matteo, Luciana Rossi. "Lactobacilli as Probiotics for Piglets" Encyclopedia, (accessed December 07, 2023).
Dell'anno, M., & Rossi, L.(2021, July 09). Lactobacilli as Probiotics for Piglets. In Encyclopedia.
Dell'anno, Matteo and Luciana Rossi. "Lactobacilli as Probiotics for Piglets." Encyclopedia. Web. 09 July, 2021.