Dietary xylo-oligosaccharide improves intestinal functions in weaned piglets
This study aimed at investigating the effects of dietary xylo-oligosaccharide (XOS) on intestinal functions (i.e., intestinal morphology, tight junctions, gut microbiota and metabolism) and growth performance in weaned piglets. 19 weaned piglets were randomly divided into two groups (n = 9/10): a control group (basic diet) and a XOS treated group in which piglets were fed 0.01% XOS for 28 days. Growth performance, blood cells and biochemical parameters, serum cytokines, intestinal morphology, tight junctions, gut microbiota, and the metabolic profiles of the gut digesta were analyzed. The results showed that dietary supplementation with XOS had little effects on growth performance, blood cells and biochemical parameters, and intestinal morphology. However, the inflammatory status and intestinal barrier were improved in XOS-fed piglets evidenced by the reduction of IFN-γ and upregulation of ZO-1. Microbiota analysis showed that XOS enhanced α-diversity and affected the relative abundances of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, and Turicibacter at the genus level. The alterations in the microbiota might be further involved in carbohydrate metabolism, cell motility, cellular processes and signaling, lipid metabolism, and metabolism of other amino acids by functional prediction. A metabolomics study identified three differentiated metabolites, including coenzyme Q6, zizyphine A, and pentadecanal, which might be produced by the microbiota and further affect host metabolism. In conclusion, dietary XOS improved the inflammatory status, gut barrier, and microbiota communities, which might be used as a potential feed additive to prevent gut dysfunction caused by weaning in the pig industry.