Purified Beta Glucan has a strong modulating effect on the immune system, making the animal more resistant to health challenges. Using purified Beta Glucans in animal feed can reduce mortality and improve post-vaccine response.
If you type the word “Beta Glucans” into Google, in 1 second you will find more than 1.3 million articles talking about the beneficial effects of using these dietary fibres, on human and animal nutrition. In the last decades, beta glucans have received special attention in human nutrition, mainly for their ability to activate the host’s defence mechanisms and for their anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory and hypocholesterolemic effects. Due to the growing interest in functional foods and the new laws that prohibit the use of growth-promoting antibiotics, beta glucans have also become a subject of great relevance for animal nutrition. This interest comes from the fact that they can modulate immunological functions and are also responsible for protecting the animal organism against infections and harmful substances.
What are beta glucans?
They are non-digestible fibres that are present in the cell wall of several microorganisms, such as multicellular fungi, yeasts, bacteria, and cereals. Depending on their molecular structure, they are considered a biological response modifier due to its immunomodulatory potential. As it is recognised by specific cell receptors, they have the ability to enhance the host’s immune response. Its continuous intake reduces the risk of disease in animals. Beta glucans from Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Figure 1) are the most widely studied. This yeast is responsible for the fermentation processes in the production of fuel alcohol, breads, and alcoholic beverages.
Figure 1 – Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell wall composition.
Not all beta glucans are the same
The mechanism of immunomodulation mediated by beta glucan depends on its interaction with immune cells located in the intestine, which recognise it and induce local and systemic regulatory responses. In this sense, the structure of beta glucan has a great influence on the immunity process, which includes its molecular structure and purity. That is why not all beta glucans are the same.
The non-purified beta glucan is a component of the cell wall of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae present in products marketed for animal nutrition, such as dry, hydrolysed and autolysed yeasts. Its concentration is in average 25% and is present in the form of gluco-mananoproteins.
The purified beta glucan (GlucanGold) with more than 60% concentration, is obtained through a biotechnological process of purification of the yeast cell wall. Through this process, this component is presented in the purest form, free of the bonds with mannan-proteins of the cell wall and its physiological response is much more effective. Figure 1 schematically represents the differences in these structures.
Programmed Immune Protection
With this molecular characteristic, the purified beta glucans (GlucanGold) are totally phagocyted by macrophages, initiating the processes of innate immunity. They are subsequently released into even smaller particles, in the lymphatic and circulatory systems, interacting in the Th1 and Th2 pathways of cytokine production. The greatest action occurs in the Th2 pathway, with greater release of anti-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-10, which tends to neutralise the inflammatory cytokines that result from the activation of the TH1 system (immunomodulation). The purified beta glucans also have the property of acting on B cells, which produce antibodies, enabling an optimisation in the post-vaccine response. Another important action of purified beta glucans is in their ability to train or programme the animals’ innate immune system. This feature, called Programmed Immune Protection (PIP), promotes a faster and more accurate immune response to the challenges faced in a situation of reinfection.
Providing the right balance
Every beta glucan trigger varying degrees of immunomodulation, but what sets them apart is the intensity and balance of the reaction. When it is purified, the reaction is more potent when compared to the unpurified molecule. Therefore, the use of purified beta glucan (GlucanGold) in the feed of any animal species, provides balance of the immune system, improves natural defences, reduces mortality and improves the post-vaccine response. These actions have a positive impact on the efficiency and profitability of the animal.
Juliana Bueno, Verônica Lisboa, Carlos Ronchi and Luciano Roppa ,YESSINERGY