Journal of Animal Science and Technology
Korean Society of Animal Science and Technology

Heat stress on microbiota composition, barrier integrity, and nutrient transport in gut, production performance, and its amelioration in farm animals

Amlan Patra*, Indrajit Kar
1West Begal Uiversity of Animal and Fishery Sciences, Kolkata 700037, India.
*Corresponding Author: Amlan Kumar Patra, E-mail:

© Copyright 2021 Korean Society of Animal Science and Technology. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Feb 02, 2021; Revised: Feb 17, 2021; Accepted: Feb 19, 2021

Published Online: Mar 04, 2021


Livestock species experience several stresses, particularly weaning, transportation, overproduction, crowding, temperature, and diseases in their life. Heat stress (HS) is one of the most stressors, which is encountered in livestock production systems throughout the world, especially in the tropical regions and is likely to be intensified due to global rise in environmental temperature. The gut has emerged as one of the major target organs affected by HS. The alpha and beta diversity of gut microbiota composition are altered due to heat exposure to animals with greater colonization of pathogenic microbiota groups. Heat stress also induces several changes in the gut including damages of microstructures of the mucosal epithelia, increased oxidative insults, reduced immunity, and increased permeability of the gut to toxins and pathogens. Vulnerability of the intestinal barrier integrity leads to invasion of pathogenic microbes and translocation of antigens to the blood circulations, which ultimately may cause systematic inflammations and immune responses. Moreover, digestion of nutrients in the guts may be impaired due to reduced enzymatic activity in the digesta, reduced surface areas for absorption and injury to the mucosal structure and altered expressions of the nutrient transport proteins and genes. The systematic hormonal changes due to HS along with alterations in immune and inflammatory responses often cause reduced feed intake and production performance in livestock and poultry. The altered microbiome likely orchestrates to the hosts for various relevant biological phenomena occurring in the body, but the exact mechanisms how functional communications occur between the microbiota and HS responses are yet to be elucidated. This review aims to discuss the effects of HS on microbiota composition, mucosal structure, oxidant-antioxidant balance mechanism, immunity, and barrier integrity in the gut, and production performance of farm animals along with the dietary ameliorations of HS. Also, this review attempts to explain the mechanisms how these biological responses are affected by HS.

Keywords: Heat stress; gut microbiota; oxidative status; barrier integrity; immunity; amelioration