The prebiotic lactulose, a probiotic strain of Lactobacillus plantarum (L. plantarum) and a synbiotic combination of these two agents were evaluated as growth promoters in 25-39-day old commercial weaning pigs. Ninety-six weaning pigs were allocated into 32 pens, taking initial weight into account, and distributed into four groups as follows: a control diet (CTR), the same diet supplemented daily with L. plantarum (109CFU/mL sprayed on top; 20mL/pig) (LPN); 10g/kg lactulose (LAC) or a combination of both treatments (SYN). At day 14, eight piglets from each group were euthanized and proximal colon digesta was sampled for luminal pH, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and lactic acid concentrations. Deoxyribonucleic acid was extracted from colonic digesta and the microbial community was profiled by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis (T-RFLP) and qPCR. Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and acute-phase proteins (Pig-MAP) were measured. Lactulose treatment (LAC) improved feed intake (P<0.05), average daily gain (P<0.01), feed:gain ratio (P<0.05) and reduced BUN (P<0.01). Both, LAC and LPN treatment, decreased the Enterobacteriaceae:Lactobacillus spp. ratio in the colonic luminal contents (P<0.05). Moreover LPN treatment promoted a decrease in the percentage of branched fatty acids (P<0.01) suggesting a reduction in proteolytic microbial activity. Microbial profiling of colonic luminal contents by T-RFLP revealed changes in some microbial species. Terminal restriction fragments (TRFs) compatible with Bifidobacterium thermoacidophilum were more frequently detected in experimental diets compared to CTR (P<0.05). Pigs receiving SYN diet demonstrated the combined positive effects of individual LAC and LPN treatment although we were not able to show a specific increase in the probiotic strain with the inclusion of lactulose. Collectively, these data suggest the combination of lactulose and L. plantarum acts as a complementary synbiotic, but not as a synergistic combination. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
- Lactobacillus plantarum