The European ban on the use of antibiotic growth promotors has increased the search for new alternatives to prevent pig intestinal microbial diseases and to stimulate growth. The addition of essential oils or components thereof, such as carvacrol, to pig feed is a promising alternative. In this report we determined the effect of sub-lethal concentrations of carvacrol on Salmonella Typhimurium. At concentrations where growth of Salmonella was not inhibited, carvacrol completely inhibited motility of the bacterium. This loss of motility was not due to the loss of the flagellum or to ATP shortage upon carvacrol treatment. Adhesion of Salmonella to IPEC-J2, porcine intestinal epithelial cells, was not affected by carvacrol but invasion was significantly reduced. In addition, the epithelial gene expression of porcine β-defensin 2, an innate immune response to Salmonella infection, was reduced when Salmonella was exposed to carvacrol. This indicates that invasion but not adhesion of Salmonella triggers the porcine β-defensin 2 expression of porcine epithelial cells.
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