Efficacy of medium-chain fatty acid salts distilled from coconut oil against two enteric pathogen challenges in weanling piglets

Paola López-Colom, Lorena Castillejos, Agustina Rod Ríguez-Sorrento, Mónica Puyalto, Juan José Mallo, Susana María Martín-Orúe

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The search for alternatives to antibiotics in pig production has increased the interest in natural resources with antimicrobial properties, such as medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) as in-feed additives. This study evaluated the potential of a novel blend of MCFA salts (DIC) from distilled coconut oil with a lauric acid content to reduce enteropathogens and control intestinal diseases around weaning. Two experimental disease models were implemented in early-weaned piglets, consisting of two oral challenges: Salmonella Typhimurium (1.2 × 108 CFU) or enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) F4 (1.5 × 109 CFU). The parameters assessed were: animal performance, clinical signs, pathogen excretion, intestinal fermentation, immune-inflammatory response, and intestinal morphology. Results: The Salmonella challenge promoted an acute course of diarrhea, with most of the parameters responding to the challenge, whereas the ETEC F4 challenge promoted a mild clinical course. A consistent antipathogenic effect of DIC was observed in both trials in the hindgut, with reductions in Salmonella spp. plate counts in the cecum (P = 0.03) on d 8 post-inoculation (PI) (Salmonella trial), and of enterobacteria and total coliform counts in the ileum and colon (P < 0.10) on d 8 PI (ETEC F4 trial). When analyzing the entire colonic microbiota (16S rRNA gene sequencing), this additive tended (P = 0.13) to reduce the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio and enriched Fibrobacteres after the Salmonella challenge. In the ETEC F4 challenge, DIC prompted structural changes in the ecosystem with increases in Dialister, and a trend (P = 0.14) to increase the Veillonellaceae family. Other parameters such as the intestinal fermentation products or serum pro-inflammatory mediators were not modified by DIC supplementation, nor were the histological parameters. Only the intraepithelial lymphocyte (IEL) counts were lowered by DIC in animals challenged with Salmonella (P = 0.07). With ETEC F4, the IEL counts were higher with DIC on d 8 PI (P = 0.08). Conclusions: This study confirms the potential activity of this MCFA salts mixture to reduce intestinal colonization by opportunistic pathogens such as Salmonella or E. coli and its ability to modulate colonic microbiota. These changes could explain to some extent the local immune cell response at the ileal level.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number89
JournalJournal of Animal Science and Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2019


  • Enteric pathogen
  • Gut microbiota
  • Intestinal immunity
  • Medium-chain fatty acids
  • Weaning pig

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