Zearalenone (ZEN) is a mycotoxin known for its estrogenic activities. The metabolism of ZEN plays a role in the interspecies differences in sensitivity to ZEN, and is known to occur in the liver and via the intestinal microbiota, although the relative contribution of these two pathways remains to be characterized. In the present study a fecal in vitro model was optimized and used to quantify the interspecies differences in kinetics of the intestinal microbial metabolism of ZEN in rat, pig and human. Vmax, Km, and catalytic efficiencies (kcat) were determined, and results obtained reveal that the kcat values for formation of α-ZEL and β-ZEL amounted to 0.73 and 0.12 mL/h/kg bw for human microbiota, 2.6 and 1.3 mL/h/kg bw for rat microbiota and 9.4 and 6.3 mL/h/kg bw for pig microbiota showing that overall ZEN metabolism increased in the order human < rat < pig microbiota. Expressed per kg bw the kcat for ZEN metabolism by the liver surpassed that of the intestinal microbiota in all three species. In conclusion, it is estimated that the activity of the intestinal colon microbiome may be up to 36 % of the activity of the liver, and that it can additionally contribute to the species differences in bioactivation and detoxification and thus the toxicity of ZEN in pigs and rats but not in humans. The results highlight the importance of the development of human specific models for the assessment of the metabolism of ZEN.
- Interspecies differences
- Intestinal microbiota