Clostridium butyricum has been widely considered an antibiotic substitute in recent years. It can promote growth performance, improve the immune response and enhance the intestinal barrier function of the host. In the present study, 1-d-old Arbor Acres (AA) broilers were fed C. butyricum (1 × 109 cfu/kg) for 28 d. The transcriptomic characteristics of epithelial cells of the cecal mucosa were determined by RNA-sequence, and the cecal microbiota composition was explored by 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing. The changes in the intestinal mucosa of broilers were then analyzed by tissue staining. Gene Ontology (GO) annotations identified substance transport and processes and pathways that might participate in intestinal development and cell viability. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis revealed that the differentially expressed genes are involved in numerous pathways related to amino acid and vitamin metabolism and antioxidant and defensive functions, among others. The relative expression of some genes associated with intestinal barrier function (claudins 2, 15, 19, and 23, tight junction proteins 1, 2, and 3 and mucin 1) was significantly increased in the treatment group (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01). Moreover, the proportion of Firmicutes was higher in the C. butyricum-treated group, whereas the proportion of Proteobacteria was higher in the control group. At the genus level, the relative abundances of Butyricicoccus and Lactobacillus, among other bacteria, were increased after C. butyricum supplementation. The tissue staining analysis showed that the cecal mucosa of broilers was significantly ameliorated after the addition of C. butyricum (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01). These results showed that dietary supplementation with C. butyricum can enhance the antioxidant capacity, mucosal barrier function, and stabilize the cecal microbiota, resulting in improving the growth performance.
Keywords: 16S ribosomal RNA; Broiler; Clostridium butyricum; Intestinal barrier; RNA-sequence.
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