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MYCOTOXINS ▶▶▶


Berberine sup- plementation is a useful dietary strategy to pre- vent the effects of aflatoxicosis and ochratoxico- sis in broiler chickens.


Table 2 – Effect of dietary aflatoxin B1 (AFB) or ochratoxin A (OTA) contamination with or without berberine (BBR) supplementation on liver weight and lesion score at 42 d of age.


Treatment


Negative Control AFB OTA


AFB + 200 BBR AFB + 400 BBR AFB + 600 BBR OTA + 200 BBR OTA + 400 BBR OTA + 600 BBR


Weight (% body weight) 1.93 2.83 2.90 2.34 2.26 2.14 2.64 2.54 2.49


Lesion score 1.25 6.50 6.00 4.75 4.50 3.75 5.50 5.00 4.25


provement in production and the reduction in the mortality rate was also attributed to the plant extract’s antioxidant and antimicrobial effects that inhibit pathogenic and non-beneficial GIT microbes.


Antioxidant status The toxic effect of mycotoxins can lead to oxidative stress and the generation of free radicals, damaging the antioxidant sys- tem. In this study, adding berberine to the contaminated di- ets led to antioxidant effects, observed by a reduction of malondialdehyde, an end-product of lipid peroxidation that increases during oxidative stress and an essential indicator of antioxidant ability. Another observation made was that ber- berine increases the production of antioxidant enzymes ‘su- peroxide dismutase’ and ‘glutathione peroxidase’, which com- pose a primary system that counters the toxic effects of free radicals. The researchers emphasised the fact that the degree of oxidative stress is related to the mycotoxin’s duration of contamination, co-contamination, the synergetic effects, toxin levels, and animal age, species and productive stage.


Liver function In this study, changes in the liver of chickens fed the AFB and OTA diets indicated liver degeneration, which was seen as


20 ▶ ALL ABOUT FEED | Volume 29, No. 5/6, 2021


cellular swelling in hepatocytes, fatty degeneration, and vas- cular changes leading to liver enlargement. The damage to the liver was also seen through elevated levels of serum ALT, serum AST, and alkaline phosphatase, which are all indicative of degenerative changes in liver tissue. The addition of BBR at all levels resulted in both weight and lesion scores decreasing in a dose-dependent manner (Table 2). Knowing that these mycotoxins can induce apoptosis through inflammatory mechanisms and oxidative stress, it was speculated that the anti-inflammatory activity of BBR was able to reduce lesions caused by aflatoxin by reducing inflammatory cytokine pro- duction (which was observed in a previous study). It was con- cluded that berberine can ameliorate the effects of liver damage caused by aflatoxins and ochratoxins.


Gut function The villus height, villus width and crypt depth decreased in broilers fed diets infused with AFB or OTA mycotoxins. All levels of berberine supplement improved these intestinal measurements. The ameliorating effect of berberine was at- tributed to its ability to reduce oxidative stress, reduce in- flammatory factors, and regulate GIT microbiota, promoting the growth of epithelial cells.


Recommended level It was concluded that berberine supplementation is a useful dietary strategy to prevent the effects of aflatoxicosis and ochratoxicosis in broiler chickens. Overall, berberine supple- mentation at 600 mg/kg was recommended as it improves growth performance, liver function, gut function, and the antioxidant status of broilers fed diets contaminated with aflatoxin and ochratoxin mycotoxins.


PHOTO: HANS PRINSEN


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