Fermentation products of Cordyceps militaris enhance performance and modulate immune response of weaned piglets
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of supplementation of Cordyceps militaris fermentation products (CMF) on growth performance and immunocompetence of piglets. The study involved three groups of animals, which were supplemented with CMF (500, 1000 and 1500 μg/kg feed), and a control group. CMF supplementation significantly increased growth performance in weaned piglets. Bodyweight gain, average daily gain and feed intake in animals supplemented with 1000 μg CMF/kg feed were significantly higher in comparison with the control group. In addition, CMF supplementation only significantly increased the synthesis of Th1 cytokines, as indicated by the levels of IL-2 and IFN-γ. The piglets fed with the CMF supplement displayed an increased cellular immune response. Indeed, alveolar macrophages isolated from piglets supplemented with 1000 and 1500 μg CMF/kg feed had significantly higher chemotactic and phagocytic indices than those isolated from piglets that received the control feed or feed supplemented with 500 μg CMF/kg. In relation to the absence of effect on Th2 cytokines, the CMF supplement had no effect on hog cholera antibody titre. In summary, feed supplementation with CMF improves growth performance and enhances cell-mediated immunity. CMF supplementation may thus be useful at weaning to counteract physiological and immunological stress during this period.
Keywords: Cellular immunity, growth performance, humoral immunity, Th1/Th2 cytokines