The power of synergy

Synergy: powerful word for a powerful effect

We are all used to hear about the concept of synergy among different substances and to use this word in any area of interest addressing solutions that allows better results in animal husbandry. It is important to define what “synergy” stands for, particularly in the microbiological area. In this case, there is a specific index, the Fractional Inhibitory Concentration Index (FIC index), that determines which kind of activity two or more molecules have in combination against microbes, evaluating their effectiveness alone and in combination. In general, the lower the index value, the higher the effectiveness of the combination.

Every antimicrobial molecule has a certain activity against specific pathogens. When more molecules are combined together against the same pathogen, they can have different interactions with an antagonistic, additive, or synergistic effect. In simple terms, two or more molecules have an antagonistic effect when they are less effective together than alone. The additive effect indicates just the sum of the activities of the molecules, so they have a better effect together than alone, but they are not yet definable as synergistic. The real synergy is a more powerful effect, stronger than the additivity: synergistic molecules frequently have a complementary mode of action with mutual help against the pathogen. In this way, we can have a strong effect combining lower dosages of these molecules than using each of them alone. The concept of synergy can be used in many different areas and not only in microbiology, with the same definition: two or more molecules with a better effect when in combination than the simple sum of the individual ones.

Why talk about synergy in animal husbandry?

Animal rearing involved many professional figures to maintain animal health and maximize their performance and productivity. For sure, good management practice is fundamental to this aim, but the second (and not less important) tool we have is nutrition. A balanced diet meeting all the animal requirements during the different phases of their productive life is at the basis of profitable husbandry. Feed additives are necessary to reach the correct nutrients balance, but they can be useful even for other reasons. For example, organic acids are commonly used as feed preservatives thanks to their well-known antimicrobial activity, while flavoring compounds, such as nature identical compounds, are used to improve feed smell and palatability. In this case, it is appropriate to talk about synergy. Several studies indicate the powerful antimicrobial activity for numbers of nature identical compounds as well as for organic acids. The mode of action of these molecules is very different.

Nature identical compounds are aromatic substances and their chemical structure and characteristics allow their antimicrobial activity. They can alter the integrity of the bacterial cell membrane creating real holes through which the cell loses the cytoplasm: these molecules are the so-called pore-forming agents and they have direct bactericidal activity against numbers of pathogens. Moreover, they can interact negatively with bacterial quorum sensing and biofilm formation. Organic acids have both bacteriostatic and bactericidal activity: they stop pathogens’ proliferation and can also kill bacterial cells. Even if their activity is linked to the environmental pH, once into the cell they lower the cytoplasm pH and cause the activation of ionic pumps in the bacteria, with a huge loss of energy when trying to restore the physiological homeostasis. At the same time, the acid attacks the nucleic acid and leads to bacterial death. Why we are talking about synergy? It is simple to understand. If we combine nature identical compounds and organic acids, the former “open the door” in the bacterial membrane to the latter, which are then facilitated to kill pathogens. The mode of actions of these different molecules are complementary, with the enhancement of their single activities. At the same time, their synergistic effect allows the strong reduction of the single molecule concentrations to reach the same (or better) antimicrobial result.

These molecules are known not only as antimicrobials: they also have a synergistic anti-inflammatory activity on the intestinal mucosa. Studies demonstrated that, after an inflammatory challenge, the administration at the intestinal level of a combination of organic acids and nature identical compounds helps to restore the initial physiological status of the mucosa, improving its tightness and barrier function. This is a powerful tool to maintain animal health and to maximize feed efficiency and life performance.

AviPlus®: synergy for reared animals

The unique combination of organic acids and nature identical compounds in AviPlus® is specifically studied to exploit the best effect possible at the intestinal level. Every microbead of this microencapsulated product contains all the active ingredients into a vegetable lipid matrix. Microencapsulation protects the ingredients through the stomach and allows their slow-release along the whole intestine. AviPlus® fully exploits the synergy both for the microflora modulation (antimicrobial activity against pathogens) and the anti-inflammatory action on the mucosa (stressful periods are common in animal life and can cause intestinal inflammation and reduced barrier function). A healthy intestine, with physiological microflora and good mucosal barrier function, is at the basis of healthy animals and enhanced life performance: the synergistic effect of AviPlus® can be a useful tool to improve the husbandry return on investment.For more information: