Diets for feedlot cattle must be a higher energy density, entailing high fermentable carbohydrate content. Feed additives are needed to reduce possible metabolic disorders. This study aimed to analyze the post-rumen effects of different levels of starch (25%, 35%, and 45%) and additives (monensin or a blend of essential oils and exogenous α-amylase) in diets for Nellore feedlot cattle. The cecum tissue proteome was analyzed via two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE) and then differentially expressed protein spots were identified with liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS). The use of blends of essential oils associated with α-amylase as a feed additive promoted the upregulation of enzymes such as triosephosphate isomerase, phosphoglycerate mutase, alpha-enolase, beta-enolase, fructose-bisphosphate aldolase, pyruvate kinase, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), l-lactate dehydrogenase B, l-lactate dehydrogenase A chain, l-lactate dehydrogenase, and ATP synthase subunit beta, which promote the degradation of carbohydrates in the glycolysis and gluconeogenesis pathways and oxidative phosphorylation, support pyruvate metabolism through the synthesis of lactate from pyruvate, and participate in the electron transport chain, producing ATP from ADP in the presence of a proton gradient across the membrane. The absence of proteins related to inflammation processes (leukocyte elastase inhibitors) in the cecum tissues of animals fed essential oils and amylase may be because feed enzymes can remain active in the intestine and aid in the digestion of nutrients that escape rumen fermentation; conversely, the effect of monensin is more evident in the rumen and less than 10% results in post-ruminal action, corroborating the hypothesis that ionophore antibiotics have a limited effect on the microbiota and intestinal fermentation of ruminants. However, the increase in starch in these diets promoted a downregulation of enzymes linked to carbohydrate degradation, probably caused by damage to the cecum epithelium due to increased responses linked to inflammatory injuries.
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