Essential Oil Applications, Research Updates|

1. The use of chitosan nanoparticles (CNPs) for the entrapment of active components has gained considerable interest in food and pharmaceutical industries due to its mucous adhesiveness, non-toxicity, biocompatibility and biodegradability.

2. This study aimed to investigate the usefulness of feeding encapsulated thyme essential oil (E-TEO) on performance, blood parameters, immunity and ileal microflora in broilers.

3. CNPs were prepared by using ionotropic gelation and structurally characterised by dynamic light scattering; scanning electron microscope and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The encapsulation efficiency percentage of TEO in CNPs and its in vitro release were determined using ultraviolet visible spectroscopy and dialysis method, respectively.

4. An in vivo experiment was conducted with five treatments of five replicates with ten chicks per pen. Dietary treatments consisted of an unsupplemented control diet, or supplemented with chlortetracycline (80 and 50 mg/kg during the starter and grower phase, respectively); CNPs (60 mg/kg); TEO (40 mg/kg diet) or E-TEO (60 mg/kg).

5. Results showed uniform distribution of nanoparticles with roughly spherical morphology, and the size of particles ranged from 30 to 100 nm. It was observed that 68.3% of TEO was encapsulated into CNPs, from which more than 90% was released within the first 96 h. Birds treated with antibiotic and E-TEO showed significantly (P < 0.05) higher body weight gain than the control and the other treatments were intermediate. Compared to the control group, adding of E-TEO into diet significantly (P < 0.05) improved feed conversion ratio at 42 days of age. Feeding birds with E-TEO significantly (P < 0.05) decreased the number of coliform and total aerobic bacteria compared to other treatments. Birds supplemented with E-TEO showed lower heterophile to lymphocyte ratio compared to birds that received TEO.

6. The results suggested that the entrapment of TEO in CNPs and its sustained release promoted broiler performance via the improvement of physiological status and modulating intestinal microbiota and therefore could be used as substitute for antibiotic growth promoter in broiler diets.

Reference: Hosseini, S. A. and A. Meimandipour (2018). “Feeding broilers with thyme essential oil loaded in chitosan nanoparticles: an efficient strategy for successful delivery.” British poultry science: 1-10.

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