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Fenugreek seed affects intestinal microbiota and immunological variables in piglets after weaning

  • Jürgen Zentek (a1), Stefanie Gärtner (a1), Lydia Tedin (a1), Klaus Männer (a1), Anneluise Mader (a1) and Wilfried Vahjen (a1)...


Fenugreek seed has been shown to affect the intestinal microbiota and immunological responses in animals. A feeding trial with male castrated piglets was performed over 28 d without or with the addition of 1·5 g fenugreek seeds/kg complete diet in ten and eleven piglets, weaned at 21 d. In the intestinal tract, pH, lactate and SCFA were measured as major bacterial metabolites. Immune cell phenotypes, phagocytic activity and lymphocyte proliferation after stimulation with pokeweed mitogen, concanavalin A and phytohaemagglutinin M were measured by flow cytometry. Health status and performance of the piglets were not affected by fenugreek. The pH in the caecum and colon were reduced compared with the control (P< 0·05). Higher concentrations of l-lactic acid were recorded in the small-intestinal digesta (average concentrations from the duodenum, jejunum and ileum; P< 0·05), while the concentrations of SCFA remained unchanged except an increase in n-butyric acid in colon contents (P< 0·05). The piglets fed the fenugreek diet had higher Lactobacillus and clostridium cluster I concentrations and lower Escherichia, Hafnia and Shigella concentrations in the small intestine. The addition of fenugreek increased the relative concentration of the γδ T-cell population (TCR1+CD8α) in the blood with a simultaneous reduction of antigen-presenting cells (MHCII+CD5) (P< 0·05). Proliferation rate and phagocytosis activity of monocytes were not affected by the additive. In conclusion, fenugreek seeds might be interesting as a feed ingredient for young piglets due to their effects on the intestinal microbiota and immunological variables. The impact on performance and animal health has to be further evaluated.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Professor Dr J. Zentek, fax +49 30 838 55983, E-mail:


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