Effects of Dietary Zearalenone Exposure on the Growth Performance, Small Intestine Disaccharidase, and Antioxidant Activities of Weaned Gilts
Zearalenone (ZEA) is a secondary metabolite with estrogenic effects produced by Fusarium fungi and mainly occurs as a contaminant of grains such as corn and wheat. ZEA, to which weaned gilts are extremely sensitive, is the main Fusarium toxin detected in corn–soybean meal diets. Our aim was to examine the effects of ZEA on the growth performance, intestinal disaccharidase activity, and anti-stress capacity of weaned gilts. Twenty 42-day-old healthy Duroc × Landrace × Large White weaned gilts
... ite weaned gilts (12.84 ± 0.26 kg) were randomly divided into control and treatment (diet containing 1.04 mg/kg ZEA) groups. The experiment included a 7-day pre-trial period followed by a 35-day test period, all gilts were euthanized and small intestinal samples were collected and subjected to immunohistochemical and western blot analyses. The results revealed that inclusion of 1.04 mg/kg ZEA in the diet significantly reduced the activities of lactase, sucrase, and maltase in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum of gilts. Similarly, the activities of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, and activities of catalase in the jejunum and ileum were reduced (p < 0.05). Conversely, the content of malondialdehyde in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, and the integrated optical density (IOD), IOD in single villi, and the mRNA and protein expression of heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) were significantly increased (p < 0.05). The results of immunohistochemical analyses revealed that the positive reaction of Hsp70 in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum of weaned gilts was enhanced in the ZEA treatment, compared with the control. The findings of this study indicate the inclusion of ZEA (1.04 mg/kg) in the diet of gilts reduced the activity of disaccharidase enzymes and induced oxidative stress in the small intestine, thereby indicating that ZEA would have the effect of reducing nutrient absorption in these animals.