The focus of recent research has been directed toward the probiotic potential of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (BA) on the gut health of animals. However, little is known about BA's effects on piglets with intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR). Therefore, this study investigated the effects of BA supplementation on the growth performance, intestinal morphology, inflammatory response, and microbiota of IUGR piglets.
Eighteen litters of newborn piglets were selected at birth, with one normal birth weight (NBW) and two IUGR piglets in each litter (i.e., 18 NBW and 36 IUGR piglets in total). At weaning, the NBW piglet and one of the IUGR piglets were assigned to groups fed a control diet (i.e., the NBW-CON and IUGR-CON groups). The other IUGR piglet was assigned to a group fed the control diet supplemented with 2.0 g BA per kg of diet (i.e., IUGR-BA group). The piglets were thus distributed across three groups for a four-week period.
IUGR reduced the growth performance of the IUGR-CON piglets compared with the NBW-CON piglets. It was also associated with decreased villus sizes, increased apoptosis rates, reduced goblet cell numbers, and an imbalance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the small intestine. Supplementation with BA improved the average daily weight gain and the feed efficiency of the IUGR-BA group compared with the IUGR-CON group (P < 0.05). The IUGR-BA group exhibited increases in the ratio of jejunal villus height to crypt depth, in ileal villus height, and in ileal goblet cell density. They also exhibited decreases in the numbers of jejunal and ileal apoptotic cells and ileal proliferative cells (P < 0.05). Supplementation with BA increased interleukin 10 content, but it decreased tumor necrosis factor alpha level in the small intestines of the IUGR-BA piglets (P < 0.05). Furthermore, compared with the IUGR-CON piglets, the IUGR-BA piglets had less Escherichia coli in their jejunal digesta, but more Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in their ileal digesta (P < 0.05).
Dietary supplementation with BA improves morphology, decreases inflammatory response, and regulates microbiota in the small intestines of IUGR piglets, which may contribute to improved growth performance during early life.