Effects of the prebiotics inulin and lactulose on intestinal immunology and hematology of preruminant calves

S. Masanetz, W. Preißinger, H. H.D. Meyer, M. W. Pfaffl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Prebiotics are suggested as an alternative to antibiotics in animal rearing. Fermentable substances such as inulin or lactulose have been proposed to stimulate the immune system and health by modulation of the intestinal flora and its fermentation products. In this study, effects of inulin and lactulose on the intestinal health and hematology of calves have been investigated. Both prebiotics significantly decreased thrombocyte counts in peripheral blood. Only inulin was able to increase hemoglobin concentration and hematocrit. Total leukocyte count was decreased by lactulose while both prebiotics tended to lower monocyte proportions. mRNA expression of inflammation-related markers in the intestine was also affected by both prebiotics hinting at a decreased inflammatory status. This may be due to a possible decrease in intestinal pathogen load that remains to be verified. Only mRNA amounts of interleukin 8 were increased by lactulose in mesenteric lymph nodes. In the ileum, expression of a proliferation marker was increased by inulin while an apoptosis-related gene was increased by both prebiotics. The results of this study show a clear effect of prebiotics on certain parameters associated with animal health and performance that remain to be studied in detail in future investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1099-1106
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • calves
  • hematology
  • inulin
  • lactulose
  • prebiotic


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