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Research: Counteraction against (myco)toxins

Animal health studies have documented the harm caused by ergot and endotoxin poisoning in animals. These two categories of toxins are blamed for a range of ailments.

Ergot alkaloids may lead to poor feathering and lesions forming on chickens, fescue foot in ruminants and shrunken udders in sows while endotoxins are responsible for endotoxic shock and death. Overall, both groups of substances were found to negatively impact reproduction, feed intake and consequently weight gain among all animals, with consequences of financial losses for the producer.

Ergot alkaloids are commonly associated with an increase in the occurrence of Claviceps spp. fungi in cereal grains and Neotyphodium spp. fungi especially in tall fescue and perennial ryegrass particularly during wet seasons of spring and early summer. Among the predominant forms of alkaloids, tests by Biomin on batch samples of raw and finished feed ingredients found ergotamine and ergocristine to be among the most commonly occurring.

Endotoxins, on the other hand, are released by bacteria, particularly during cytokinesis and destabilization of cell membrane, and react with blood proteins and cytokines to trigger changes in the immune response. Unlike ergot alkaloids which are toxins produced by plants, endotoxins are derived from air-borne bacteria or bacteria found in food, water and waste substances, as well as through endogenous sources such as the gastrointestinal tract and colonized mucosa.

To test the effects of Biomin’s product line on ergot alkaloids, Mycofix® Plus was administered in ex vivo trials with swine gastric juice and rumen fluid. Adsorption rates for ergine, ergotamine and ergovaline were recorded at 56%, 86% and 90%, respectively, in gastric juice and 68%, 85% and 86% in rumen fluid. Recent in vitro trials of Mycofix in dry lick stones indicated adsorption rates of 91% and 98% for ergotamine and 84% and 96% for ergovaline at pH values of 3.5 and 6.5, respectively.

For endotoxins, Mycofix was found to promote the adsorption of endotoxins but, most importantly, to positively counter the overall inflammatory effects of these substances. The latter is achieved by a correct selection of yeast, plant and algae extracts which work in an harmonious way to increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-10) and to promote the activity of macrophages whilst decreasing the production of the pro-inflammatory ones (IL-6 and TNFα). 

Aflatoxins, fumonisins, ergot alkaloids and endotoxins are adsorbed by selected clay minerals; zearalenone, ochratoxins and the large family of trichothecenes are biotransformed into less or non-toxic metabolites. Bioprotection insures the hepato- and immune-protection through plant and algae extracts, the latter especially important in the case of an endotoxin challenge.

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