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Susceptibility of Broiler Chickens to Coccidiosis When Fed Subclinical Doses of Deoxynivalenol and Fumonisins—Special Emphasis on the Immunological Response and the Mycotoxin Interaction

Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
BIOMIN Research Center, Tulln 3430, Austria
Department of Animal Sciences, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, OH 44691, USA
Livestock Behavior Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, W. Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
Department of Poultry Science, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sven Dänicke
Toxins 2016, 8(8), 231;
Received: 22 April 2016 / Revised: 30 June 2016 / Accepted: 18 July 2016 / Published: 27 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Collection Fusarium Toxins – Relevance for Human and Animal Health)
PDF [2005 KB, uploaded 27 July 2016]


Deoxynivalenol (DON) and fumonisins (FB) are the most frequently encountered mycotoxins produced by Fusarium species in livestock diets. The effect of subclinical doses of mycotoxins in chickens is largely unknown, and in particular the susceptibility of birds to pathogenic challenge when fed these fungal metabolites. Therefore, the present study reports the effects of DON and FB on chickens challenged with Eimeria spp, responsible for coccidiosis. Broilers were fed diets from hatch to day 20, containing no mycotoxins, 1.5 mg DON/kg, 20 mg FB/kg, or both toxins (12 pens/diet; 7 birds/pen). At day 14, six pens of birds per diet (half of the birds) were challenged with a 25×-recommended dose of coccidial vaccine, and all birds (challenged and unchallenged) were sampled 6 days later. As expected, performance of birds was strongly affected by the coccidial challenge. Ingestion of mycotoxins did not further affect the growth but repartitioned the rate of reduction (between the fraction due to the change in maintenance and feed efficiency), and reduced apparent nitrogen digestibility. Intestinal lesions and number of oocysts in the jejunal mucosa and feces of challenged birds were more frequent and intense in the birds fed mycotoxins than in birds fed control feed. The upregulation of cytokines (interleukin (IL) IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-10) following coccidial infection was higher in the jejunum of birds fed mycotoxins. Further, the higher intestinal immune response was associated with a higher percentage of T lymphocytes CD4+CD25+, also called Tregs, observed in the cecal tonsils of challenged birds fed mycotoxins. Interestingly, the increase in FB biomarker of exposure (sphinganine/sphingosine ratio in serum and liver) suggested a higher absorption and bioavailability of FB in challenged birds. The interaction of DON and FB was very dependent on the endpoint assessed, with three endpoints reporting antagonism, nine additivity, and two synergism. In conclusion, subclinical doses of DON and FB showed little effects in unchallenged chickens, but seem to result in metabolic and immunologic disturbances that amplify the severity of coccidiosis. View Full-Text
Keywords: mycotoxins; coccidiosis; challenge; interaction; intestinal immune response mycotoxins; coccidiosis; challenge; interaction; intestinal immune response

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Grenier, B.; Dohnal, I.; Shanmugasundaram, R.; Eicher, S.D.; Selvaraj, R.K.; Schatzmayr, G.; Applegate, T.J. Susceptibility of Broiler Chickens to Coccidiosis When Fed Subclinical Doses of Deoxynivalenol and Fumonisins—Special Emphasis on the Immunological Response and the Mycotoxin Interaction. Toxins 2016, 8, 231.

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