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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Animal Genomics for Animal Health (AGAH 2010)

Open Access Proceedings

Effects of dietary plant-derived phytonutrients on the genome-wide profiles and coccidiosis resistance in the broiler chickens

Hyun S Lillehoj1*, Duk K Kim1, David M Bravo2 and Sung H Lee1

Author Affiliations

1 Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA

2 Pancosma S.A., Voie-des-Traz 6, CH-1218 Le Grand Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland

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BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 4):S34  doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S4-S34

Published: 3 June 2011



The present study was conducted to investigate the effects of dietary plant-derived phytonutrients, carvacrol, cinnamaldehyde and Capsicum oleoresin, on the translational regulation of genes associated with immunology, physiology and metabolism using high-throughput microarray analysis and in vivo disease challenge model of avian coccidiosis.


In this study, we used nutrigenomics technology to investigate the molecular and genetic mechanisms of dietary modulation of host innate immunity and metabolism by three phytonutrients. To validate their immunomodulatory effects in a disease model, young broiler chickens fed a standard diet supplemented with three phytochemicals (carvacrol, cinnamaldehyde, and Capsicum oleoresin) from one day post-hatch were orally challenged with E. acervulina. The body weight gain and fecal oocyst production were used to evaluate coccidiosis disease parameters.


Analysis of global gene expression profiles of intestinal tissues from phytonutrient-fed birds indicated that Capsicum oleoresin induced the most gene changes compared to the control group where many of these genes were associated with those of metabolism and immunity. The most reliable network induced by dietary cinnamaldehyde treatment was related with the functions of antigen presentation, humoral immune response, and inflammatory disease. Furthermore, dietary supplementation with these phytonutrients significantly protected broiler chickens against live coccidiosis challenge infection based on body weight and parasite fecundity.


The results of this study provide clear evidence to support the idea that plant-derived phytochemicals possess immune-enhancing properties in chickens and these new findings create a new possibility to develop effective drug-free alternative strategies for disease control for poultry infectious diseases.