Mycotoxins: prevention is still the best solution

Poultry, Releases

Melina Bonato, R&D Coordinator, ICC Brazil

Mycotoxins are the secondary metabolites of fungi, and their frequency of occurrence and the severity of the disease that they produce will determinate the importance. The group of mycotoxins that are important in feed production and came mostly from cereals is aflatoxins, fumonisins, zearalenone, deoxynivalenol (DON), ochratoxin, and T-2 toxin (Richard, 2007).

Aflatoxins are highly toxic to birds because are immediately absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and then spreads in the tissues, especially the liver, where they are biotransformed into toxic metabolites that bind to an intracellular constituent of liver tissue and alter protein synthesis and liver function (Wyatt, 1991).

The fumonisin mechanism of action is related to blocking the synthesis of sphingolipids, an important substance for cell membrane integrity and ionic transport through the cells (Santurio, 2000). In another hand, zearalenone can affect the poultry health and performance in high levels. However, it’s important not to have mycotoxin residues in meat for human consumption.

DON and T-2 are from trichothecenes group, and T-2 contamination causes oral lesions, necrosis of lymphoid tissues, hematopoietic and oral mucosa, with possible nerve disorders (abnormal position of the wings, lack of reflexes), abnormal feathering. Birds are resistant to high levels of DON. However, this mycotoxin can lead to a decrease in hemoglobin levels (Santurio, 2000). Also, ochratoxin rarely affects performance but causes atrophy in lymphoid organs, such as bursa of Fabricius, thymus, and spleen (Pozzo et al., 2013).

The effects of mycotoxins on broiler performance will depend on its concentration, interactions with other mycotoxins, bird age, nutrient levels in the diet, bird stress condition, etc. Several factors can worsen framework contamination by mycotoxins, and many of these are difficult to control, including the detection of contaminated grain. The best plan against mycotoxins is still prevention and use of adsorbents.

A large portion of mycotoxin binders present in the world market is based on aluminosilicates. However, it is important to know the source of this raw material, since its purity will result in greater surface adsorption area. Hydrated Sodium Calcium Aluminosilicate (HSCAS) are highly efficient in adsorption of polar mycotoxins, which means they need an opposed charge to make the binding (cationic bindings). Since these HSCAS are polar, the majority adsorbed will be aflatoxins.

An option to increase the range of adsorption to different mycotoxins is StarFix® from ICC Brazil which combines HSCAS with yeast cell wall. The Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell wall, from sugar cane fermentation process to produces ethanol, contains high levels of β-glucans, which binds mycotoxins by both hydrogen and van der Waals bonds. StarFix® also contains nucleotides and nucleosides, which supports the liver recovery, since is this organ most affected by mycotoxins and, at the same time, it has a great regenerative capacity. StarFix® assists the liver functions regeneration since it is an important source of free nucleotides and antioxidants.

Due it’s high efficiency to adsorption different mycotoxins and hepatic regeneration, StarFix® can be included in broiler, breeders and laying hens diet at low dosages, resulting in a great cost/benefit.


Richard, JL. Some major mycotoxins and their mycotoxicoses— An overview. International Journal of Food Microbiology, v. 119, p. 3–10, 2007.

Santurio, JM. Micotoxinas e Micotoxicoses na Avicultura. Revista Brasileira de Ciência Avícola, Campinas, v. 2, n. 1, p. 01-12, 2000. 

Wyatt RD, Hamilton PB, Burmeister HR. The effects of T-2 toxin in broiler chickens. Poultry Science, v. 52, p. 1853-1859, 1973.


Posted in 13 November of 2019

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