Dietary seaweed (Saccharina latissima) supplementation in pigs induces localized immunomodulatory effects and minor gut microbiota changes during intestinal helminth infection

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Brown seaweeds have a rich bioactive content known to modulate biological processes, including the mucosal immune response and microbiota function, and may therefore have the potential to control enteric pathogens. Here, we tested if dietary seaweed (Saccharina latissima) supplementation could modulate pig gut health with a specific focus on parasitic helminth burdens, gut microbiota composition, and host immune response during a five week feeding period in pigs co-infected with the helminths Ascaris suum and Oesophagostomum dentatum. We found that inclusion of fermented S. latissima (Fer-SL) at 8% of the diet increased gut microbiota α-diversity with higher relative abundances of Firmicutes, Tenericutes, Verrucomicrobia, Spirochaetes and Elusimicrobia, and lower abundance of Prevotella copri. In the absence of helminth infection, transcription of immune-related genes in the intestine was only moderately influenced by dietary seaweed. However, Fer-SL modulated the transcriptional response to infection in a site-specific manner in the gut, with an attenuation of infection-induced gene expression in the jejunum and an amplification of gene expression in the colon. Effects on systemic immune parameters (e.g. blood lymphocyte populations) were limited, indicating the effects of Fer-SL were mainly localized to the intestinal tissues. Despite previously documented in vitro anti-parasitic activity against pig helminths, Fer-SL inclusion did not significantly affect parasite egg excretion or worm establishment. Collectively, our results show that although Fer-SL inclusion did not reduce parasite burdens, it may modify the gut environment during enteric parasite infection, which encourages continued investigations into the use of seaweeds or related products as novel tools to improve gut health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21931
JournalScientific Reports
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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