Effects of Sophorolipid on Growth Performance, Organ Characteristics, Lipid Digestion Markers, and Gut Functionality and Integrity in Broiler Chickens

Min Jin Kwak, Sun Woo Choi, Yong Soon Choi, Hanbae Lee, Min Young Park, Kwang Youn Whang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Dietary fat and oil could aid in reaching the high-energy requirements of fast-growing birds; however, these inclusions could lead to nutrient waste. This is because young birds have limited lipid digestion due to the low secretion of lipase and bile salt. Sophorolipid (SPL), a glycolipid emulsifier with lower toxicity and higher biodegradability, can upregulate fat utilization by increasing digestibility. Accordingly, a five-week-long experiment was conducted with 720 one-day-old chicks (Ross 308) to investigate the effects of dietary SPL on growth, organ characteristics, and gut health. The allotment was partitioned into four treatment groups according to their body weight with six replications (30 chick/pen). The three treatment diets comprised a basal diet with a formulation that met the Ross 308 standard and 5, 10, and 15 ppm SPL in the basal diet. During the experiment, the birds had free access to feed, and body weight and feed intake were measured at the end of each phase. Chickens were put down at the end of the growing and finishing phases, and jejunum and cecal samples were obtained to investigate organ characteristics and gut environments. The data were analyzed using the generalized linear model procedures of SAS 9.4, and all data were assessed for linear, quadratic, and cubic effects of dietary SPL-supplemented dosages. Body weight was significantly increased with 10 ppm of SPL supplementation in the grower phase without affecting feed efficiency. The relative weights of the intestine and the bursa of Fabricius were quadratically decreased by SPL supplementation with a lower population of Streptococcus and higher propionate and butyrate concentrations. Additionally, the dietary SPL supplementation groups showed a significantly increased villus/crypt ratio with higher intestinal expression levels of fatty acid translocase, diacylglycerol acyltransferase 2, and fatty acid transporter 4. Collectively, proper SPL supplementation in the chicken diet could improve growth performance by down-regulating immune modulation and up-regulating lipid digestion and absorption via modulation of gut microenvironments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number635
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
All of works related to chicks were conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Animal Ethics Committee approved by the Korea University, South Korea (KU-2020-0082). This study was conducted during 35 days at a research farm in Cheonan, Republic of Korea. We used 720 one-day-old male chicks (Ross 308) with an average body weight of 40.14 ± 0.12 g, which were randomly allotted to four experimental treatment groups according to their initial BW with six replication (30 chicks/pen). The basal diets consisted of three phases: starter phase (day 0–10), grower phase (day 11–20), and finisher phase (day 21–35). Dietary SPL was supplemented at three dosages (5, 10, and 15 ppm). We had prepared three dosages of SPL supplemented premixes equivalent to 10% of total weight of feed, and the premix was mixed with the total amount of feed. Table 1 presents the formulation and nutrient specification of the basal diet, and feed and SPL were supported by EASY BIO Inc. (Seoul, South Korea). Chicks were raised in an environmentally controlled room with rice hulls. Feed and water were freely provided to the chicks, and the lighting program provided artificial light for 24 h/d.

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Pathway Intermediates (Q1813691).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Broiler chickens
  • Growth performance
  • Gut microenvironments
  • Lipid bioavailability
  • Sophorolipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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