Skip to main content Accessibility help

Effects of chito-oligosaccharide on piglet jejunal explants: an histological approach

  • J. R. Gerez (a1), L. Y. Buck (a1), V. H. B. Marutani (a1), C. M. Calliari (a2), L. S. Cunha (a3) and A. P. F. R. Loureiro Bracarense (a1)...


Antibiotics have been widely used in piglet diets to promote growth performance and reduce diarrhea incidence. However, the resistance of pathogens to antibiotics and the risk of residues of antibiotics in animal products induced a growing interest in the use of alternatives to in-feed antibiotics. Chito-oligosaccharide (COS), a natural alkaline polymer of glucosamine is currently being tested as a substitute for in-feed antibiotics. In weaned piglets, COS has positive effects on promoting growth, which may be related to its action on intestinal morphology, immune ability and beneficial microbiota. However, previous studies shown variable results with effective doses ranging from 30 mg/kg to 5 g/kg. Therefore, the goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that the use of COS can be an alternative to in-feed antibiotics by improve the intestinal morphology of piglets, using the jejunal explant model. The intestinal explants were exposed for 4 h to following treatments: control – only culture media and culture media with COS in doses of 0.025 mg/ml, 0.05 mg/ml, 0.1 mg/ml and 0.15 mg/ml. After the incubation period the explants were processed for histological and morphometrical analysis. The histological changes were evaluated using an adapted histological score based on the intensity and severity of lesions. Mild histological changes were observed in jejunal explants exposed to different treatments; however, no significant difference in the histological score, villi height, crypt depth or villus : crypt ratio were observed between the COS-groups and the control. In addition, goblet cells density in intestinal explants exposed to COS remained statistically similar to control group. Our results indicate that COS exposure in levels ranging from 0.025 to 0.15 mg/ml induced no effect on intestinal morphology of pig’s explants. The research will provide guidance on the low dosage of COS supplementation on weaning pigs.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Anthon, GE and Barrett, DM 2002. Determination of reducing sugars with 3-methyl-2-benzothiazolinonehydrazone. Analytical Biochemistry 305, 287289.
Association of Official Analytic Chemists (AOAC) 2005. Official methods of analysis, 18th edition. AOAC, Gaithersburg, MD, USA.
Barton, MD 2000. Antibiotic use in animal feed and its impact on human health. Nutrition Research Reviews 13, 279299.
Chae, SY, Jang, M and Nah, J 2005. Influence of molecular weight on oral absorption of water soluble chitosans. Journal of Controlled Release 102, 383394.
Chen, Y, Kim, IH, Cho, JH, Yoo, JS, Wang, Y, Huang, Y, Kim, HJ and Shin, SO 2009. Effects of chitooligosaccharide supplementation on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, blood characteristics and immune responses after lipopolysaccharide challenge in weanling pigs. Livestock Science 124, 255260.
Fernandes, JC, Spindola, H, de Sousa, V, Santos-Silva, A, Pintado, ME and Malcata, FX 2010. Anti-inflammatory activity of chitooligosaccharides in vivo . Marine Drugs 8, 17631768.
Gibson, GR and Roberfroid, MB 1995. Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics. Journal of Nutrition 125, 14011412.
Horn, SJ and Eijsink, VGH 2004. A reliable reducing end assay for chito-oligosaccharides. Carbohydrate Polymers 56, 3539.
Hu, HC, Xiao, K and Song, J 2013. Early weaning increases intestinal permeability, alters expression of cytokine and tight junction proteins, and activates mitogen-activated protein kinase in pigs. Journal of Animal Science 91, 10941101.
Kim, SK and Rajapakse, N 2005. Enzymatic production and biological activities of chitosan oligosaccharides (COS): a review. Carbohydrate Polymers 62, 357368.
Kong, XF, Zhou, XL, Lian, GQ, Blachier, F, Liu, G, Etan, B, Nyachoti, CM and Yin, YL 2014. Dietary supplementation with chitooligosaccharides alters gut microbiota and modifies intestinal luminal metabolites in weaned Huanjiang mini-piglets. Livestock Science 160, 97101.
Li, K, Xing, R, Liu, S and Li, P 2016. Advances in preparation, analysis and biological activities of single chitooligosaccharides. Carbohydrate Polymers 139, 178190.
Liu, P, Piao, XS, Kim, SW, Wang, L, Shen, YB, Lee, HS and Li, SY 2008. Effects of chito-oligosaccharide supplementation on the growth performance, nutrient digestibility, intestinal morphology, and fecal shedding of Escherichia coli and Lactobacillus in weaning pigs. Journal of Animal Science 86, 26092618.
Lucioli, J, Pinton, P, Callu, P, Laffitte, J, Grosjean, F, Kolf-Clauw, M, Oswald, IP and Bracarense, APFRL 2013. The food contaminant deoxynivalenol activates the mitogen activated protein kinases in the intestine: Interest of ex vivo models as an alternative to in vivo experiments. Toxicon 66, 3136.
Maidana, L, Gerez, JR, El Khoury, R, Pinho, F, Puel, O, Oswald, IP and Bracarense, APFRL 2016. Effects of patulin and ascladiol on porcine intestinal mucosa: an ex vivo approach. Food and Chemical Toxicology 98, 189194.
Moncada, DM, Kammanadiminti, SJ and Chadee, K 2003. Mucin and toll-like receptors in host defense against intestinal parasites. Trends Parasitology 19, 305311.
Muzzarelli, RAA and Peters, MG 1997. Chitin handbook. Atec, Grottammare, AP, Italy.
Oliveira, ER, Silva, CA, Castro-Gómez, RJH, Lozano, AP, Gavioli, DF, Frietzen, J, Silva, EO, Novais, AK, Frederico, G and Júnior, MP 2017. Chito-oligosaccharide as growth promoter replacement for weaned piglets: performance, morphometry, and immune system. Semina: Ciências Agrárias 38, 32533270.
Pelaseyed, T, Bergström, JH, Gustafsson, JK, Ermund, A, Birchenough, GM, Schütte, A, van der Post, S, Svensson, F, Rodríguez-Piñeiro, AM, Nyström, EE, Wising, C, Johansson, ME and Hansson, GC 2014. The mucus and mucins of the goblet cells and enterocytes provide the first defense line of the gastrointestinal tract and interact with the immune system. Immunological Reviews 260, 820.
RStudio Team 2016. RStudio: Integrated Development for R. RStudio, Inc., Boston, MA. URL
Russel, WMS and Burch, RL 1959. The principles of human experimental technique. Methuen, London, UK.
Sánchez, Á, Mengíbar, M, Rivera-Rodríguez, G, Moerchbacher, B, Acosta, N and Heras, A 2017. The effect of preparation processes on the physicochemical characteristics and antibacterial activity of chitooligosaccharides. Carbohydrate Polymers 157, 251257.
Shang, Q, Jiang, H, Cai, C, Hao, J, Li, G and Yu, G 2018. Gut microbiota fermentation of marine polysaccharides and its effects on intestinal ecology: an overview. Carbohydrate Polymers 179, 173185.
Silva, EO, Gerez, JR, Drape, TC and Bracarense, APFRL 2014. Phytic acid decreases deoxynivalenol and fumonisin B1-induced changes on swine jejunal explants. Toxicology Reports 1, 284292.
Souza, DM and Garcia-Cruz, CH 2004. Fermentative production of exocellular polysaccharides by bacteria. Semina: Ciências Agrárias 25, 331340.
Suthongsa, S, Pichyangkura, R, Kalandakanond-Thongsong, S and Thongsong, B 2017. Effects of dietary levels of chito-oligosaccharide on ileal digestibility of nutrients, small intestinal morphology and crypt cell proliferation in weaned pigs. Livestock Science 198, 3744.
Swiatkiewicz, S, Swiatkiewicz, M, Arczewska-Wlosek, A and Jozefiak, D 2015. Chitosan and its oligosaccharide derivatives (chito-oligosaccharides) as feed supplements in poultry and swine nutrition. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 99, 112.
Thacker, AP 2013. Alternatives to antibiotics as growth promoters for use in swine production: a review. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 4, 112.
Thongsong, B, Suthongsa, S, Pichyangkura, R and Kalandakanond-Thongsong, S 2018. Effects of chito-oligosaccharide supplementation with low or medium molecular weight and high degree of deacetylation on growth performance, nutrient digestibility and small intestinal morphology in weaned pigs. Livestock Science 209, 6066.
Van der Fels-Klerx, HJ, Puister-Jansen, LF, Van Asselt, ED and Burgers, SL 2011. Farm factors associated with the use of antibiotics in pig production. Journal of Animal Science 89, 19221929.
Wang, JP, Yoo, JS, Kim, HJ, Lee, JH and Kim, IH 2009. Nutrient digestibility, blood profiles and fecal microbiota are influenced by chitooligosaccharide supplementation of growing pigs. Livestock Science 125, 298303.
Xiao, D, Tang, Z, Yin, Y, Zhang, B, Hu, X, Feng, Z and Wang, J 2013. Effects of dietary administering chitosan on growth performance, jejunal morphology, jejunal mucosal sIgA, occludin, claudin-1 and TLR4 expression in weaned piglets challenged by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli . International Immunopharmacology 17, 670676.
Xiong, X, Yang, HS, Wang, XC, Hu, Q, Liu, CX, Wu, X, Deng, D, Hou, YQ, Nyachoti, CM, Xiao, DF and Yin, YL 2015. Effect of low dosage of chito-oligosaccharide supplementation on intestinal morphology, imune response, antioxidante capacity, and barrier function in weaned piglets. Journal of Animal Science 93, 10891097.
Xu, Y, Shi, B, Yan, S, Li, T, Guo, Y and Li, J 2013. Effects of Chitosan on body weight gain, growth hormone and intestinal morphology in weaned pigs. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 26, 14841489.
Yang, CM, Ferket, PR, Hong, QH, Zhou, J, Cao, GT, Zhou, L and Chen, AG 2012. Effect of chito-oligosaccharide on growth performance, intestinal barrier function, intestinal morphology and cecal microflora in weaned pigs. Journal of Animal Science 90, 26712676.
Zhou, TX, Cho, JH and Kim, IH 2012. Effects of supplementation of chito-oligosaccharide on the growth performance, nutrient digestibility, blood characteristics and appearance of diarrhea in weanling pigs. Livestock Science 144, 263268.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Gerez et al. supplementary material
Gerez et al. supplementary material 1

 Word (15 KB)
15 KB

Effects of chito-oligosaccharide on piglet jejunal explants: an histological approach

  • J. R. Gerez (a1), L. Y. Buck (a1), V. H. B. Marutani (a1), C. M. Calliari (a2), L. S. Cunha (a3) and A. P. F. R. Loureiro Bracarense (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed