Effects of ergot alkaloids on liver function of piglets as evaluated by the (13)C-methacetin and (13)C-α-ketoisocaproic acid breath test
Ergot alkaloids (the sum of individual ergot alkaloids are termed as total alkaloids, TA) are produced by the fungus Claviceps purpurea, which infests cereal grains commonly used as feedstuffs. Ergot alkaloids potentially modulate microsomal and mitochondrial hepatic enzymes. Thus, the aim of the present experiment was to assess their effects on microsomal and mitochondrial liver function using the 13C-Methacetin (MC) and 13C-a-ketoisocaproic( )acid (KICA) breath test, respectively. Two ergot batches were mixed into piglet diets, resulting in 11 and 22 mg (Ergot 5-low and Ergot 5-high), 9 and 14 mg TA/kg (Ergot 15-low and Ergot 15-high) and compared to an ergot-free control group. Feed intake and live weight gain decreased significantly with the TA content (p < 0.001). Feeding the Ergot 5-high diet tended to decrease the 60-min-cumulative 13CO(2) percentage of the dose recovery (cPDR(60)) by 26% and 28% in the MC and KICA breath test, respectively, compared to the control group (p = 0.065). Therefore, both microsomal and mitochondrial liver function was slightly affected by ergot alkaloids.