Chicken protein fights food pathogens

21-03-2007 | |
Chicken protein fights food pathogens

Dutch scientists have identified a protein in the digestive tract of chickens that might serve as an antimicrobial agent against food-borne pathogens.

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.


Antimicrobial activity

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.
The researchers
reported observing high levels of Gal-6 in the chickens’ esophagus and crop and
moderate expression in their glandular stomach.

Colony-counting tests
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.

First
report
“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
researchers.

The study is reported in the journal
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemo-therapy.

Related
website:

Utrecht University

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