Background: Although adequate colostrum intake and properly used antibiotics can provide much protection for the bovine neonate, increased antibiotic scrutiny and consumer demand for organic products have prompted investigations of natural immunomodulators for enhancing calf health. One plant-based immunomodulator, Morinda citrifolia (noni) fruit, is a well-recognized natural product that has a broad range of immunomodulatory effects.
Hypothesis: Neonatal calves fed noni puree would demonstrate whole blood phagocytic capacity in Gram-negative and Gram-positive in vitro assays.
Animals: Blood samples from 18 neonatal Holstein bull calves.
Methods: Calves were divided into 2 groups: Group 1 comprised control calves, whereas Group 2 received 30 mL of noni puree twice a day in milk replacer. Day 0 blood samples were obtained between 36 and 48 hours of age before the first feeding of puree. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid anticoagulated blood was collected from each calf on days 0, 3, 7, and 14. Bactericidal assays were performed to estimate the percentage killing of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis.
Results: Blood samples from noni puree-fed calves displayed significantly more E. coli bacterial killing than did controls on day 14, and although differences were not significant on days 0, 3, and 7, bacterial killing progressively increased over time. There was no significant difference between the groups for S. epidermidis killing.
Conclusions and clinical importance: The immunomodulatory effect of noni puree may prove valuable in the future as production animal antibiotic use becomes more restricted. Additional clinical trials are warranted to investigate the clinical application of noni puree in promoting calf health.