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Endotoxins - Silent but harmful: Demystifying misconceptions

Simone Schaumberger

Endotoxins are incredibly fascinating substances. On the one hand they stimulate the immune system in a positive way; on the other hand they cause endotoxic shock and death. Although a lot of research has been done in the last years it has not yet been possible to fully understand the exact transition point of "good to bad". One reason could be that endotoxaemia is mostly a subsequent effect of other underlying illnesses in humans and companion animals and that the individual immune constitution plays a fundamental role in this response.


Of special interest for pig farmers is the involvement of endotoxins in, for example, the Mastitis- Metritis- Agalactia Complex of sows or the sudden death syndrome in piglets. But these are just two examples of endotoxin-associated diseases which can lead to financial losses and increased labour for farmers. These out of many more examples were the reason why BIOMIN started to investigate in this topic, allowing a better understanding of the harmful action of endotoxins leading to the development of feed additives which help keeping endotoxins under control.


Endotoxins are produced by bacteria. This is of main interest when one imagines that bacteria are part of our lives. They are everywhere around us as well as in our gastrointestinal tract or in other parts of hollow organs. As long as there is a balance between growth and death of bacteria every process remains normal in the organism but what happens when this balance is disturbed? What happens when more bacteria than those the organism can cope with are produced? In this case bacteria have the chance to liberate their poisonous substances or compete against the body's defenses consequently harming the body.

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Article made possible through the contribution of Biomin.


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