Review: II - Diet and immunity: current state of knowledge and research prospects for the rabbit


  • L. Fortun-Lamothe INRA
  • F. Drouet-Viard INRA



immunité, lapin, santé, nutrition, alimentation


Feeding plays an important role on the immune system of the animals. Nutriments contained in food can have a direct role on immunity while being used as substrates for the cellular proliferation and the synthesis of the effector and informant molecules. They can also have an indirect role: the nutritional status acts on immunity throughout the neuroendocrine system and some nutrients (unsaturated fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E) have an immunomodulatory action. In addition to the nutriments that it contains, the food can affect the sensitivity of the animals to the infections by modifying the intestinal flora, the attachment capacity of the micro-organisms and the intestinal epithelium integrity. In addition, some molecules not having a major nutritional function, such as carotenoids, can modulate the immune answer. Lastly, the food can be a vector for molecules or organisms that have a role on immune system (glucans, probiotics, mycotoxins). lf the feeding can affect the immune system, reciprocally, a stimulation immune system (in case of infectious disease for example) modifies the nutritional needs of the sick animal. The whole of the data concerning the interactions between feeding and immunity obtained in other species make it possible to propose interesting perspeclives of research in rabbit. lndeed, the control of digestive pathologies is one of the major difficulties of the rabbit breeding and appropriate feeding could contribute to improve immune capacity of the animals.


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