Increases in serum sphingosine and sphinganine and decreases in complex sphingolipids in ponies given feed containing fumonisins, mycotoxins produced by Fusarium moniliforme.
Consumption of food contaminated with Fusarium moniliforme causes leucoencephalomalacia and hepatotoxicity in horses, pulmonary edema in pigs and liver cancer in rats, and has been correlated with esophageal cancer in humans. The causative agents are thought to be a family of compounds called fumonisins, which have recently been shown to be potent inhibitors of sphingosine (sphinganine) N-acyltransferase. Because inhibition at this step blocks the formation of complex sphingolipids while leading to accumulation of sphinganine, we hypothesized that exposure of animals to fumonisin-contaminated feed might be detected by analyses of serum sphingolipids. Within days of giving ponies feed contaminated with 15 to 44 micrograms/g fumonisin B1, there was an increase in the amount of free sphinganine (and sometimes sphingosine) and a reduction in complex sphingolipids. Free sphinganine and sphingosine decreased when ponies consumed less of the contaminated feed, and increased again when they consumed more fumonisin. When toxicosis was evident as indicated by other serum markers, complex sphingolipids as well as free sphingosine and sphinganine were elevated, probably due to loss of sphingolipids from dying cells. These findings establish that consumption of fumonisin-contaminated feed disrupts sphingolipid metabolism. Because the changes in sphinganine and sphingosine were seen before liver enzymes were noticeably elevated, they may be an early marker of exposure to fumonisins.
Wang, E; Ross, PF; Wilson, TM; Riley, RT; Merrill, AH
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