Effects of oregano on performance and immunmodulating factors in weaned piglets

Arch Anim Nutr. 2013 Dec;67(6):461-76. doi: 10.1080/1745039X.2013.858897.


Many health effects can be attributed to the Mediterranean herb oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) and several studies demonstrated the improving effect on performance, changes in blood count, antibacterial, antifungal and immunmodulating abilities. The majority of these investigations were carried out with processed essential oil, while whole plant material was only used in a few studies. Thus, the aim of the present experiment was to test the effect of increasing proportions of dried oregano in piglet feed on health and performance, with a special focus on immune modulation. A total of 80 male castrated weaned piglets (body weight [BW] 7.9 kg ± 1.0 kg) were used in a feeding experiment lasting 5 weeks. They were assigned to 4 experimental groups: a control diet, and three diets with an oregano supplementation at 2 g, 4 g and 8 g per kg feed, respectively, corresponding to 23.5 mg, 46.9 mg and 93.9 mg carvacrol/kg DM. After 3 weeks, half of each group was challenged with 5 µg lipopolysaccharides (LPS) per kg BW. Blood samples were collected 2 h after LPS stimulation and analysed for T-cell phenotypes, granulocyte activity, clinical-chemistry as well as white and red blood count. The results indicate no effects of oregano on performance. In contrast, oregano altered the lymphocyte proportion and the ratio of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cells as well as the triglyceride concentration in the serum of non-stimulated and in LPS-stimulated piglets. In conclusion, whole plant supplementation of oregano to piglet feed altered immune-related parameters, but did not modulate the acute inflammatory response induced by LPS stimulation.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animals
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / veterinary
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis
  • Hematologic Tests / veterinary
  • Immunomodulation / drug effects*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Origanum / chemistry*
  • Sus scrofa / growth & development*
  • Sus scrofa / immunology*
  • Sus scrofa / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Weaning


  • Lipopolysaccharides