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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5436738, 11 pages
Research Article

Oregano Essential Oil Improves Intestinal Morphology and Expression of Tight Junction Proteins Associated with Modulation of Selected Intestinal Bacteria and Immune Status in a Pig Model

1Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, College of Animal Science and Technology, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China
2The Cooperative Innovation Center for Sustainable Pig Production, Wuhan 430070, China

Received 1 March 2016; Revised 3 May 2016; Accepted 8 May 2016

Academic Editor: Kai Wang

Copyright © 2016 Yi Zou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Oregano essential oil (OEO) has long been used to improve the health of animals, particularly the health of intestine, which is generally attributed to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. However, how OEO acts in the intestine of pig is still unclear. This study was aimed at elucidating how OEO promotes the intestinal barrier integrity in a pig model. Pigs were fed a control diet alone or one supplemented with 25 mg/kg of OEO for 4 weeks. The OEO-treated pigs showed decreased () endotoxin level in serum and increased () villus height and expression of occludin and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) in the jejunum. These results demonstrated that the integrity of intestinal barrier was improved by OEO treatment. The OEO-treated pigs had a lower () population of Escherichia coli in the jejunum, ileum, and colon than the control. This is in accordance with the greater inactivation () of inflammation, which was reflected by the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), protein kinase B (Akt), and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signaling pathways and expression of inflammatory cytokines in the jejunum. Our results show that OEO promotes intestinal barrier integrity, probably through modulating intestinal bacteria and immune status in pigs.