Individual and combined effects of deoxynivalenol (DON) with other Fusarium mycotoxins on rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) growth performance and health

Paraskevi Koletsi*, Geert F. Wiegertjes, Elisabeth A.M. Graat, Marijn de Kool, Philip Lyons, Johan W. Schrama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study assessed whether the toxicological effects of deoxynivalenol (DON) produced by Fusarium graminearum in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are altered by the co-exposure to a mixture of toxins produced by Fusarium verticillioides (FUmix). This FUmix contained fusaric acid and fumonisin B1, B2 and B3. Four diets were formulated according to a 2 × 2 factorial design: CON-CON; CON-FUmix; DON-CON; and DON-FUmix. Diets with and without DON contained on average 2700 and 0 µg/kg feed, respectively. The sum of the analysed FUmix toxins was 12,700 and 100 µg/kg feed in the diets with and without FUmix, respectively. The experiment consisted of a 6-week restrictive feeding period immediately followed by a 2-week ad libitum feeding period. Growth performance measurements were taken per feeding period. Histopathological measurements in the liver and gastrointestinal tract (pyloric caeca, midgut and hindgut) were assessed at the end of week 1 and week 6 of the restrictive feeding period and at week 8, the last day of the ad libitum feeding period. During both restrictive and ad libitum feeding, the effects of FUmix and DON on growth performance were additive (no interaction effect; p > 0.05). During the restrictive feeding period, exposure to DON (p ≤ 0.001) and FUmix (p ≤ 0.01) inhibited growth and increased feed conversion ratio (FCR). During this period, DON exposure decreased the protein (p ≤ 0.001) and energy retention (p ≤ 0.05) in the trout. During the ad libitum feeding period, FUmix affected HSI (p ≤ 0.01), while DON exposure reduced feed intake (p ≤ 0.001) and growth (p ≤ 0.001) and increased FCR (p ≤ 0.01). In general, for both liver and intestinal tissue measurements, no interaction effects between DON and FUmix were observed. In the liver, histopathological analysis revealed mild alterations, increased necrosis score by DON (p ≤ 0.01), increased glycogen vacuolization by FUmix (p ≤ 0.05) and decreased percentage of pleomorphic nuclei by FUmix (p ≤ 0.01). DON had a minor impact on the intestinal histological measurements. Over time, some of the liver (glycogen vacuolization score, pleomorphic nuclei; p ≤ 0.01) and intestinal measurements (mucosal fold and enterocyte width; p ≤ 0.01) were aggravated in fish fed the FUmix contaminated diets, with the most severe alterations being noted at week 8. Overall, the co-exposure to FUmix and DON gave rise to additive effects but showed no synergistic or antagonistic effects for the combination of DON with other Fusarium mycotoxins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-420
JournalMycotoxin Research
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Co-contamination
  • Feed
  • Fish
  • Growth
  • Mycotoxins
  • Rainbow trout


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