Host defense peptides (HDPs) are natural broad spectrum antimicrobials and an important first line of defense in almost all forms of life.
In a recent study by Sunkara et al. (2011), the hypothesis that sodium butyrate is capable of inducing HDPs and enhancing disease resistance in chickens was tested. The authors reported that “butyrate is a potent inducer of several, but not all, chicken HDPs in HD11 macrophages as well as in primary monocytes, bone marrow cells, and jejuna and cecal explants”.
“In addition, butyrate treatment enhanced the antibacterial activity of chicken monocytes against Salmonella enteritidis, with a minimum impact on inflammatory cytokine production, phagocytosis, and oxidative burst capacities of the cells.
“Furthermore, feed supplementation with 0.1% butyrate led to a significant increase in HDP gene expression in the intestinal tract of chickens. More importantly, such a feeding strategy resulted in a nearly 10-fold reduction in the bacterial titer in the cecum following experimental infections with S. enteritidis.”
The authors concluded that dietary supplementation of butyrate has potential for further development as a convenient antibiotic-alternative strategy to enhance host innate immunity and disease resistance.