Dutch scientists have identified a protein in the digestive tract of chickens
that might serve as an antimicrobial agent against food-borne
Food-borne pathogens, responsible for most cases of
food poisoning in developed countries, are commonly affiliated with poultry
products including chicken. Therapeutic doses of antibiotics in chicken feed
have been administered since the 1950s but are now discouraged due to increasing
rates of antibiotic resistance.
In the study researchers, led by
Albert van Dijk of Utrecht University, tested chickens for B-defensin
gallinacin-6, or Gal-6, protein and explored its antimicrobial activity against
gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, as well as yeast.
reported observing high levels of Gal-6 in the chickens' esophagus and crop and
moderate expression in their glandular stomach.
showed strong bactericidal activity against various bacteria, including
Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli, which are all major food-borne
pathogens. Fungicidal activity was also noted.
"To our knowledge, this is the first report of a chicken
B-defensin highly expressed in the digestive tract and displaying strong
bactericidal activity against food-borne pathogens," said the
The study is reported in the journal
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemo-therapy.
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