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Influence of Echinacea extract pre- or postnatal supplementation on immune and oxidative status of growing rabbits

DOI: 10.4081/ijas.2010.e63

Keywords: Rabbit , Echinacea Purpurea , Antioxidant , Immunoglobulin

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Our study aimed to investigate the effect of Echinacea purpurea (E) root extract supplementation on the immune response and antioxidant status of growing New Zealand White rabbits. The study started with twenty pregnant does divided into two groups (10 each): the control (MC) group and the E-treated (MT) group. Twenty pups obtained from both the MC and MT does were divided into four sub-groups (n=10 each): (i) PCMC (control pups from control mothers), (ii) PTMC (E-treated pups from control mothers), (iii) PCMT (control pups from E-treated mothers), and (iv) PTMT (E-treated pups from E-treated mothers). Treatment with Echinacea showed, at the end of the fattening period, as compared to the control, a reduction in the mortality rate in the PTMC and PTMT groups and significantly increased body weight and red blood cells; the percentage of packed cell volume increased significantly in the PTMT group at the end of the experiment as compared to the PCMC group. The white blood cell count and particularly the percentage of lymphocytes increased (P<0.05) in the PTMC and PTMT groups while the percentage of neutrophils decreased (P<0.05). Plasma total protein (TP), serum total IgG, serum glutathione and nitric oxide increased (P<0.05) while the serum albumin/globulin ratio and malondialdehyde (MDA) decreased (P<0.05) in the PTMC and PTMT groups. Our results suggest that Echinacea purpurea extract supplementation to pregnant and weaned rabbits might enhance the immune function and increase the activities of the antioxidant defence system in addition to the reduction of mortality rate after weaning, which is a strategy to improve growth performance and animal health when fattening rabbits for production.


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