In Hungary almost 70% of mould-affected maize inspected since 1993 was found to be contaminated with fumonisin B1 (FB1) (mean 2.6-8.65 mg/kg; maximum 9.8-75.1 mg/kg), the degree of this contamination was found to increase from year to year (Fazekas et al., 1997b). In this experiment, in order to define tolerance limit values, the effect of exposing weaned piglets to FB1 in low doses over a 4-week period was examined. The experiment was performed with 20 weaned barrows of Danish Landrace breed. After a 5-day adaptation period cultures of the fungus Fusarium moniliforme were mixed into the animals' feed in concentrations that resulted in a daily intake of fumonisin B1 of 0, 10, 20 and 40 mg/kg feed. Feeding with the toxin was observed to exert no significant effect on body weight gain or feed consumption in the animals, no clinical signs were observed and no mortality traceable to toxic effects occurred. In computer tomography examinations performed in the second and fourth weeks mild and more severe pulmonary oedema was diagnosed in the experimental animals. The processes developing in the pulmonary parenchyma were corroborated by the mathematical and statistical evaluation procedures applied. The haematological parameters examined revealed no change attributable to toxic effects, while with respect to the biochemical parameters, an increase in aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity dependent on dosage, indicating a pathological change in the liver, was ascertained in all three experimental groups. The free sphinganine to sphingosine ratio (SA/SO), which is regarded as the most sensitive bioindicator of fumonisin toxicosis, showed an increase proportionate to toxin concentration for all three dosages. Dissection revealed mild cases of pulmonary oedema in three of the animals given doses of 10 p.p.m. (n = 4), two mild and two severe cases in those exposed to 20 p.p.m. (n = 5), and severe cases in all five animals given 40 p.p.m. The oedema of non-inflammatory origin was confirmed by histopathological examinations. The findings of this experiment which indicate that in this study FB1 administered in substantially lower concentrations than those reported in the literature resulted in severe pathological changes, point to the importance of studies involving even lower doses.
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