Review: β‐glucans as effective antibiotic alternatives in poultry

Betty Schwartz*, Vaclav Vetvicka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The occurrence of microbial challenges in commercial poultry farming causes significant economic losses. Antibiotics have been used to control diseases involving bacterial infection in poultry. As the incidence of antibiotic resistance turns out to be a serious problem, there is increased pressure on producers to reduce antibiotic use. With the reduced availability of antibiotics, poultry producers are looking for feed additives to stimulate the immune system of the chicken to resist microbial infection. Some β‐glucans have been shown to improve gut health, to increase the flow of new immunocytes, increase macrophage function, stimulate phagocytosis, affect intestinal morphology, enhance goblet cell number and mucin‐2 production, induce the increased expression of intestinal tight‐junctions, and function as effective anti‐inflammatory immunomodulators in poultry. As a result, β‐glucans may provide a new tool for producers trying to reduce or eliminate the use of antibiotics in fowl diets. The specific activity of each β‐glucan subtype still needs to be investigated. Upon knowledge, optimal β‐glucan mixtures may be implemented in order to obtain optimal growth performance, exert anti‐inflammatory and immunomodulatory activity, and optimized intestinal morphology and histology responses in poultry. This review provides an extensive overview of the current use of β glucans as additives and putative use as antibiotic alternative in poultry.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number3560
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Antibiotics
  • Immunomodulatory
  • Poultry
  • β‐glucans


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