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How Dead Bacteria Boost Immunity in Livestock: Peptidoglycans

posted on August 12, 2015

Scientific literature has documented that many of the probiotic benefits from viable cells can also be obtained from populations of dead, or abiotic, bacteria [1]. Abiotic bacteria, when ingested, can have significant effects on animal immunity. This is due to their cell wall components stimulating monitoring systems in the gut.

Gram-positive bacteria, such as Proprietary Strain of Lactobacillus Fermentation Product, have a thick cell wall composed of peptidoglycan. Peptidoglycan makes up 90% of the dry weight of Proprietary Strain of Lactobacillus Fermentation Product [2]. It is a polymer made up of sugars and amino acids. Here is its simplified structure from Wikipedia:


NAG and NAM are two alternating sugars. An oligopeptide is the same as an amino acid.

When abiotics are consumed, the peptidoglycans from the dead cells trigger the surveillance system in the gut which turns on several immune responses. The immune system relies on a cascade of different molecules. Like a line of dominoes, each molecule relies on a push from an adjacent molecule before it can perform its duty. Feeding abiotics to a healthy animal keeps the immune system in a mildly stimulated state, which keeps the cascade system functional. Because of the peptidoglycans in the feed, the immunity cascade is already operational and ready for any stress or challenge which may arise during production or transportation of livestock.

1. Adams CA. (2010) The probiotic paradox: live and dead cells are biological response modifiers. Nutrition Research Reviews. 23: 37-46.
2. Hogan CM. (2010) Bacteria. Encyclopedia of Earth. eds: Sidney Draggan and C. J. Cleveland, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington DC.

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