Acta Vet. Brno 2017, 86: 37-44

Subchronic exposure to deoxynivalenol exerts slight effect on the immune system and liver morphology of growing rabbits

Mariam Kachlek1, Judit Szabó-Fodor2, András Szabó1, István Bors2, Chiara Celia1,3, Zsolt Gerencsér1, Zsolt Matics1, Zsolt Szendrő1, Tamás Tuboly4, Erika Balogh-Zándoki5, Róbert Glávits6, Antonella Dalle Zotte3, Melinda Kovács1,2

1Kaposvár University, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Kaposvár, Hungary
2MTA-KE Mycotoxins in the Food Chain Research Group, Kaposvár, Hungary
3University of Padova, Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health, Padova, Italy
4Faculty of Veterinary Science, Szent István University, Budapest, Hungary
5Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Szent István University, Gödöllő, Hungary
6Autopsy KKT, Budapest, Hungary

Received July 7, 2016
Accepted February 17, 2017

As the most common grain contaminant worldwide, deoxynivalenol is of high importance despite its low toxicity compared to other trichothecene mycotoxins. Data on the effects of deoxynivalenol in rabbits are scarce. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the effects of dietary deoxynivalenol fed at a high level (10 mg/kg of feed) on the productive performance, blood indices, immunological variables, histopathological changes, and genotoxicity in rabbits. Forty-eight Pannon White rabbits were exposed to contaminated diets for three weeks. Despite its high concentration, deoxynivalenol did not affect the feed intake, body weight, and body weight gain. Liver and kidney function was not affected, as shown by the clinical chemistry indices. Conversely, in two rabbits the toxin caused mild fibrosis of the liver, without degenerative changes of the hepatocytes. No genotoxicity could be observed either. Gut cytokines and the phagocytic activity of the macrophages did not differ significantly. The percentage of neutrophils was significantly lower, whereas that of eosinophils was significantly higher in the toxin-fed group. Deoxynivalenol did not cause significant changes in gut and villus morphology. In 4 out of the 6 deoxynivalenol-treated animals, the ratio of lymphoblast proliferation and simultaneous apoptosis shifted towards apoptosis in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. In the central part of the lymphoid follicles of the spleen, lymphocyte depletion and follicular atrophy could be detected. It can be concluded that rabbits are less sensitive to deoxynivalenol, but the findings confirm that this Fusarium toxin is capable of modulating the immune response.


This research was supported by the National Scientific Research Fund (OTKA 100810) to MK and the János Bolyai Research Grant of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (BO/499/13) to JSzF.


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