The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of commercial monostrain and multistrain probiotics in diets on growth performance, intestinal morphology and mucin gene (MUC2) expression in broiler chicks. Three hundred seventy-eight 1-d-old male Arian broiler chicks were allocated in 3 experimental groups for 6 wk. The birds were fed on a corn-soybean based diet and depending on the addition were labeled as follows: control-unsupplemented (C), birds supplemented with Bacillus subtilis (BS) and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) based probiotics. Each treatment had 6 replicates of 21 broilers each. Treatment effects on body weight, feed intake, feed conversion ratio and biomarkers such as intestinal goblet cell density, villus length, villus width, and mucin gene expression were determined. Total feed intake did not differ significantly between control birds and those fed a diet with probiotics (p>0.05). However, significant differences in growth performance were found. Final body weight at 42 d of age was higher in birds fed a diet with probiotics compared to those fed a diet without probiotic (p<0.05). Inclusion of Bacillus subtilis based probiotic in the diets also significantly affected feed conversion rate (FCR) compared with control birds (p<0.05). No differences in growth performance were observed in birds fed different types of probiotic supplemented diets. Inclusion of lactic acid bacteria based probiotic in the diets significantly increased goblet cell number and villus length (p<0.05). Furthermore, diets with Bacillus subtilis based probiotics significantly increased gene expression (p<0.05), with higher intestinal MUC2 mRNA in birds fed diet with probiotics compared to those fed the control diet. In BS and LAB probiotic fed chicks, higher growth performance may be related to higher expression of the MUC2 gene in goblet cells and/or morphological change of small intestinal tract. The higher synthesis of the mucin gene after probiotic administration may positively affect bacterial interactions in the intestinal digestive tract, intestinal mucosal cell proliferation and consequently efficient nutrient absorption.
Keywords: Bacillus subtilis; Broilers; Gene Expression; Mucin; Probiotic; Small Intestine.