• Role of organic acids and phytonutrients as natural alternatives to antibiotics in supporting intestinal functionality
  • Toschi, Andrea <1993>


  • AGR/18 Nutrizione e alimentazione animale


  • The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) represents the major portion of the body that interfaces with the external environment, with the double function of food processing and line of defense of the body. Numerous components support and regulate the barrier function of the GIT, such as tight junctions (TJs), cytokines, commensal and pathogenic microorganisms, and other systems of the organism, as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS can control several gastrointestinal functions, as well as the regulation of intestinal inflammation. Failure of the intestinal barrier function triggers an increase of the concentration of pro-inflammatory cytokines and leads to a reduction in intestinal functionality. This thesis aimed to explore the potential of natural compounds as a new alternative approach to antibiotics not only as antimicrobial, but also supporting intestinal maturation and integrity, and as immune-boosting agents. Different experiments were performed to evaluate the potential of nature-identical compounds (NICs), organic acids (OAs), and essential oils (EOs) to support and fight various stressful stimuli. In vitro, a well characterized blend of NICs and OAs were able to improve TJs and transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) in an intestinal cell line, exerting an anti-inflammatory potential. EOs enhanced TEER and TJs mRNA levels, with a reduction of paracellular permeability, showing antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. In vivo, thymol modulates the gene expression of ECS and gut chemosensing in the GIT of piglets, where the precise localization of the cannabinoid receptors was immunohistochemically confirmed, suggesting an anti-inflammatory potential. In conclusion, natural alternative molecules represent an effective alternative to support or replace the classical pharmacological prophylaxis. These alternative molecules act not only as antimicrobial agents, but also exerted a crucial role in supporting the intestinal barrier function, preventing oxidative stress, and reducing inflammation. Moreover, thymol seems able to modulate the ECS, representing a novel frontier to support animal health and productivity.


  • 2021-05-19


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Toschi, Andrea (2021) Role of organic acids and phytonutrients as natural alternatives to antibiotics in supporting intestinal functionality, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze veterinarie , 33 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/9841.