Journal: Genes, vol. 11, p. 1–18, 2020
International Standard Numbers:
Open Access: gold
Feed safety is a necessity for animal health and welfare as well as prerequisite for food safety and human health. Wheat gluten (WG) is considered as a valuable protein source in fish feed due to its suitability as a feed binder, high digestibility, good amino acid profile, energy density and most importantly, due to its relatively low level of anti-nutritional factors (ANFs). The main aim of this study was to identify the impact of dietary WG on salmon health by analysing growth, feed efficiency and the hepatic and intestinal transcriptomes. The fish were fed either control diet with fishmeal (FM) as the only source of protein or diets, where 15% or 30% of the FM were replaced by WG. The fish had a mean initial weight of 223 g and approximately doubled their weight during the 9-week experiment. Salmon fed on 30% WG showed reduced feed intake compared to the 15% and FM fed groups. The liver was the less affected organ but fat content and activities of the liver health markers in plasma increased with the inclusion level of WG in the diet. Gene expression analysis showed significant changes in both, intestine and liver of fish fed with 30% WG. Especially noticeable were changes in the lipid metabolism, in particular in relation to the intestinal lipoprotein transport and sterol metabolism. Moreover, the intestinal transcriptome of WG-fed fish showed shifts in the expression of a large number of genes responsible for immunity and tissue structure and integrity. These observations implied that the fish receiving WG-containing diet were undergoing nutritional stress. Overall, the study provided evidence that a high dietary level of WG can have a negative impact on the intestinal and liver health of salmon with symptoms similar to gluten sensitivity in humans.