Antimicrobial agents are critical in the pharmaceutical and textile industries, water purification, and food packaging. One notable disadvantage of organically synthesized compounds is toxicity in the body; therefore, the trend is to use inorganic nanoparticles such as Che-SeNPs that have antimicrobial activity (Phull et al., 2016). These Che-SeNPs have an inhibitory effect on many microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and nematodes. Currently, antimicrobial drugs are becoming less effective for many diseases globally because of the drug resistance capability of microbes. Microorganisms use their biofilm to resist antimicrobial drugs, and the membranes are the primary source of food contamination. Che-SeNPs have been used to control the growth and formation of biofilms of food spoilage bacteria, including B. cereus, Enterococcus faecalis, S. aureus, E. coli O157:H7, S. typhimurium, and S. enterica(Khiralla and El-deeb, 2015). Developing more effective antibacterial agents is vital for a wide range of applications in various diseases for better public health. However, the emergence of multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria presents a public health threat. Many developed antimicrobial drugs have limited effective applications due to chemical imbalance, low biocompatibility, and poor long-term antibacterial efficiency. Che-SeNPs conjugated with quercetin and acetylcholine have shown a great antimicrobial effect on the pathogen (Huang et al., 2016). Probiotics are microorganisms that can improve intestinal microbial balance and provide benefits to human health after consumption in adequate amounts. Lactobacillus plantarumand L. johnsoniicells are resistant against selenium dioxide, and their cell-free extracts were tested against C. albicansATCC 14053 (Kheradmandet al., 2014). Selenium particles extracted from cultures of S. carnosusstabilized by their natural protein coating, for instance, show considerable activity against the nematode Steinernemafeltiae, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and E. coli. Natural SeNPs were found more active than mechanically generated selenium particles and can be applied as antimicrobial materials in medicine and agriculture (Estevamet al., 2017). Antimicrobial tests show SeNP activity against S.epidermidisbut not against E. coli in a low Se concentration of 2 ppm. S. aureusis an important bacterium commonly found in numerous infections. S. aureusinfections were difficult to treat due to their biofilm formation and defined antibiotic resistance. SeNPs were used effectively in the prevention and treatment of disease caused by S. aureus(Reda et al., 2020).
The antifungal activity of SeNPs was evaluated against C. albicans ATCC 4862, C. glabrataATCC64677, C. parapsilosis ATCC 22019, and C. guilliermondii ATCC 6260 usingthe disk diffusion method (Hariharanet al., 2012) (Table 1). The common antifungal agents are enormously irritant and lethal, and it is necessary to formulate newer types of safe and cost-effective fungicidals. Accordingly, the results of the present study illustrate that selenium nanoparticles have good antifungal activity against all pathogenic animals and human Candida species. Selenium nanoparticlesshowed better activity against C. albicansATCC 4862 compared to other Candidaspecies used in this study. In addition, it was proved that SeNPs have low toxicity and high biological activities (Fesharakiet al., 2010). A similar observation was reported byShakibaie etal. (2015), who studied the antifungal activity of selenium nanoparticles against Aspergillus fumigatus and C. albicans,and found theMICs for A.fumigatus and C. albicansto be 100 and 70 µg/mL, respectively. However,the high surface-to-volume ratios and their nanoscale sizes provide better activity against biological materials. In addition, Che-SeNP has a significantly lower toxicity than other inorganic and organic forms of supplemental selenium (Shakibaie et al., 2015).
The current data demonstrated that dietary supplementation with Che-SeNP substantially affected BW, BWG, feed intake, and feed conversion ratio (FCR). A similar observation was stated by Zhou and Wang (2011), who clarified significant improvement in the FCR and growth performance by supplementation with Che-SeNP up to a 0.5 mg/kg basal diet. Khazraie and Ghazanfarpoor (2015) illustrated that weight gain was significantly increased in quail chicks fed the Che-SeNP-supplemented diet compared to the control. Selim et al. (2015), using the Che-SeNP form (0.15 to 0.30 ppm), showed a marked improvement in BW, BWG, and FCR of broiler chicks. Ibrahim et al. (2020) indicated that dietary Che-SeNP supplementation significantly improved BW, BWG, and FCR of broiler chicks compared to the control group. The improved performance may be due to (1) higher utilization of Che-SeNP associated with the unique properties of nano form, such as excellent bioavailability higher solubility, high cellular uptake, and greater surface activity (Zhang et al., 2008); (2) the involvement of Se in regulating several enzymatic systems, which interferes in energy metabolism and metabolism of the essential fatty acid apurinic and apyrimidinic base; and (3) Che-SeNP has high biological activity, immune regulation, and oxidation resistance (Huang et al., 2016). In addition, the improved FCR can be elucidated by the Che-SeNP role in enhancing the activity of intestinal microbiota to digest and absorb the nutrients via the intestinal barriers (Yoon et al., 2007).
The results of the present study in carcass traits and relative organ weight of growing Japanese quails were in line with the study of Khazraie and Ghazanfarpoor (2015), who stated that the supplementation of Che-SeNP to the diet did not affect carcass traits of chicks. Additionally, Caiet al. (2012) reported no significant effect of Che-SeNP on the weights of carcass parts in broilers. Selim et al. (2015) indicated that giblets were not affected due to the inclusion of Che-SeNP in the diet. Recently, Bakhshalinejadet al. (2019) reported that neither carcass yield nor carcass yield parts such as thigh and breast muscles, as well as liver, gizzard, and heart of broilers, was affected by different Che-SeNP levels at 42 d of age.
Boostaniet al. (2015) exhibited that packed cell volume, RBCs and WBCs were not different between the birds supplemented with Che-SeNP and the control birds, which is in line with the results of the current study. Likewise, Chen et al. (2013) revealed no significant difference in WBCs, RBCs and packed cell volume of broilers fed different Se sources. Additionally, Mohamed et al. (2016) illustrated that using Che-SeNP in the diet of Sinai chicks did not significantly affect WBCs, eosinophils, and monocytes. However, our study stated that Hb level was increased by the addition of Che-SeNP, in agreement with Khazraie and Ghazanfarpoor (2015), who reported a significant increase in Hb concentration in quails fed a diet containing Che-SeNP. These findings may be caused by Se enhancing the activity of hemopoietic organs (Tayeb and Qader, 2012).
The results of the current study on the blood biochemistry of quails were in agreement with previous studies. Serum total protein and albumin were not significantly affected due to Che-SeNP supplementation to the broiler diet (Selim et al., 2015). Serum globulin levels were increased with the addition of Che-SeNP in the diet (Mohamed et al., 2016). Additionally, no significant difference in serum AST activity was observed of chicks fed a diet supplemented with Che-SeNP (Selimet al., 2015). However, our results are similar to the study of Elsaid (2015), who reported increased serum ALT activity in birds fed a diet supplemented with Che-SeNP. Selim et al. (2015) found that increasing the Che-SeNP level in broiler diets led to an increase in plasma creatinine levels compared to the control group. However, some studies showed that blood creatinine levels declined in birds fed a diet containing Che-SeNP (Elsaid, 2015). The potential reason for these differences is possibly related to the dose and time of animal exposure. We concluded from the current study that the higher Che-SeNP level is the cause of increased ALT and creatinine as indicators of liver and kidney oxidative damage, whereas lower levels showed less damage.
Selenium has a hypocholesterolemic activity. A significant reduction in plasma TC and an increase in HDL were detected in the Che-SeNP-treated birds. The dietary addition of nan forms of selenium for hens caused significant declines in serum levels of cholesterol as compared to that of the control (Ismail et al., 2016). Rizk et al. (2017) stated that Che-SeNP addition in the chicken diet decreased cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoproteins as well as increased HDL compared with the control group. These results might be attributed to lipolysis that increased with Se intake. Additionally, the reduction of cholesterol may be due to the role of Se in the activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ that can decrease sterol regulatory element-binding protein-2 level, resulting in decreased cholesterol synthesis (Klopotek et al., 2006).
The antioxidant system is greatly influenced by the nutritional status of an animal. Se nanoparticles have vital roles in protecting the body cells from reactive oxygen species abundance by decreasing the production of free radicals and lipid peroxidation (Pilarczyket al., 2012). Se is well-known for its ability to boost the antioxidant capacity as it forms selenocysteine that is a portion of the active center of GSH-peroxidase (Px) (Terovaet al., 2018). Therefore, dietary supplementation of Se is essential to improve Se-dependent antioxidant enzymes. These enzymes can help in decreasing the concentration of lipid peroxides and hydrogen peroxide. Dietary Che-SeNP enhanced oxidative stability and antioxidant ability in broilers (Caiet al., 2012). Mohamed et al. (2016) reported a positive effect on plasma total antioxidant capacity of birds fed a diet containing Che-SeNP. Aparna and Karunakaran (2016) detected an increase in glutathione peroxidase and SOD cellular activity in birds fed Che-SeNP compared to the control group. El-Deep et al. (2016) displayed that Che-SeNP enhanced the activities of SOD and GSH-Px and reduced MDA content in the liver of broilers. The improvement of antioxidant status in quails fed Che-SeNP in the current study may be attributed to that (1) Che-SeNP had high antioxidant activity because it has an augmented ability to trap free radicals with better antioxidant influence, (2) Che-SeNP can act as a chemo preventive agent when administered at a smaller particle size, (3) Se plays a key role as an antioxidant that could protect intestinal mucosa against pathogens and oxidative damage, and (4) Se has immunomodulation properties (Torres et al., 2012).
Nanominerals such as Che-SeNP can increase immune parameters and disease resistance (El-Deep et al., 2016). In the current study, we presented a potential approach to the application of Che-SeNP to improve the immunity of quails. These findings can be due to the higher absorption of selenium nanoparticles. The present data are in harmony with the study of Cai et al. (2012), who stated that dietary Che-SeNP supplementation improved humoral immunity by increasing the levels of IgG and IgM of broiler chicks. Dietary Che-SeNP supplementation showed immunostimulatory impacts in broiler chicks (Kadhim et al., 2018). The improvement in serum immunoglobulins levels may be attributed to the important biological role of Che-SeNP in increasing T helper cells and enhancing the secretion of cytokines (Shabani et al., 2019). Additionally, Se plays a key role in the production of GSH-Px. Selenium inhibits arachidonic acid peroxidation and protects cells and tissues of the immune system from damage caused by free radicals. Therefore, it can be said that Che-SeNP boosts the immunity and antioxidant metabolites of birds (Kadhim et al., 2018).
The regulation of microbiota in the gut can be achieved through dietary supplements that can encourage the beneficial bacteria growth or can selectively suppress the activity of pathogenic bacteria. Trace elements and natural agents as feed additives may affect the diversity of gut microbiota (Reda et al., 2020). The present study found that supplementation of Che-SeNP in quail diets declined harmful bacteria and increased useful bacteria. Se is one of the important elements that can help microbiota to complete its action within the gut (Yoon et al., 2007). Se supplementation augmented the population of caecum such as Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. compared to the basal diet (Yoon et al., 2007). Therefore, using Che-SeNP is one of the recommendations for reducing the population of harmful gut bacteria due to its inhibitory effect against many pathogenic bacteria.