NRI Research Highlights
National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (NRI)
Toxins stemming from mold in feed grains are unavoidable in poultry production. "Mycotoxins" such as aflatoxin B (AFB1) are among the most potent liver-damaging toxins known. AFB1 is also a probable human carcinogen. Poultry are the most sensitive of all farm animals to the toxic effects of even small amounts of AFB1. Although poultry don’t generally live long enough to develop cancers, AFB1-related diseases adversely affect their health. This aflatoxin can cause slowing of growth and decreased resistance to microbial pathogens that make poultry ill. Because these toxins are so pervasive in feed grains, eliminating them has proved either impractical or prohibitively expensive. Mycotoxins cost the poultry industry more than $100 million annually in productivity losses and reduced product quality. These losses have been absorbed into the cost of production. Aflatoxins such as AFB1–used in this study –are also known as "pro-toxins." That is, they are not toxic in their original state, but they become so only after being eaten and then reacting with liver enzymes. But there are also protective enzymes in the liver. In some animals that are AFB1-resistant, the active form of AFB1 is efficiently detoxified by a group of enzymes called glutathione S-transferases (GSTs).
Coulombe, Roger A. Jr., "Antioxidants Protect Turkeys Against Toxicity of Aflatoxin" (2001). Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Science Faculty Publications. Paper 66.