Deepoxy-deoxynivalenol retains some immune-modulatory properties of the parent molecule deoxynivalenol in piglets


Deoxynivalenol (DON) is the most abundant trichothecene in food and feed. It causes both acute and chronic disorders of the human and animal intestine, liver and the immune system. The structural basis for the toxicity of DON has not been fully elucidated. Using the pig as a target and a model species for human, the toxicity of DON and its deepoxy-metabolite (DOM-1) was compared. Animals were exposed by gavage to 1 and 0.5 nmol toxin/kg b.w./day for 2 and 3 weeks respectively. Whatever the dose/duration, DOM-1 was less toxic than DON in terms of weight gain and emesis. In the 3-week experiment, animals were vaccinated with ovalbumin, and their immune response was analyzed in addition to tissue morphology, biochemistry and hematology. DON impaired the morphology of the jejunum and the ileum, reduced villi height, decreased E-cadherin expression and modified the intestinal expression of cytokines. Similarly, DON induced hepatotoxicity as indicated by the lesion score and the blood biochemistry. By contrast, DOM-1 only induced minimal intestinal toxicity and did not trigger hepatotoxicity. As far as the immune response was concerned, the effects of ingesting DOM-1 were similar to those caused by DON, as measured by histopathology of lymphoid organs, PCNA expression and the specific antibody response. Taken together, these data demonstrated that DOM-1, a microbial detoxification product of DON, was not toxic in the sensitive pig model but retained some immune-modulatory properties of DON, especially its ability to stimulate a specific antibody response during a vaccination protocol.

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A. Pierron was supported by fellowship from CIFRE (2012/0572, jointly financed by the BIOMIN Holding GmbH, Association Nationale de la Recherche Technique and INRA). The authors thank Drs. Alassane-Kpembi and Payros for helpful discussion.

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Correspondence to Isabelle P. Oswald.

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Pierron, A., Bracarense, A.P.F.L., Cossalter, A. et al. Deepoxy-deoxynivalenol retains some immune-modulatory properties of the parent molecule deoxynivalenol in piglets. Arch Toxicol 92, 3381–3389 (2018).

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  • Modified mycotoxins
  • Epoxy group
  • In vivo
  • Immune response
  • Pig