A protein in the digestive tract of chickens, which may serve as an antimicrobial agent against food-borne pathogens, has been identified by Dutch scientists.
Many cases of food poisoning in developed countries are a result of food-borne pathogens, which are commonly affiliated with poultry products, particularly chicken. Therapeutic doses of antibiotics have been administered in chickens, but have been discontinued due to antibiotic resistance.
Research led by Albert van Dijk of Utrecht University tested chickens for B-defensin gallinacin-6 (Gal-6) protein and explored its antimicrobial activity against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.
High levels of Gal-6 in the chickens’ esophagus and crop and moderate expression in their glandular stomach was observed.
Colony-counting tests showed strong bactericidal activity against various bacteria, including Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli – major food-borne pathogens.
“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.
This study is reported in the journal “Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy”.