Quantification of zearalenone and α-zearalenol in swine liver and reproductive tissues using GC-MS
The mycotoxin zearalenone (ZEN) is a common contaminant of swine feed which has been related to a wide range of reproductive anomalies in swine, such as pelvic organ prolapse, anestrous, and pseudopregnancy. New information is needed to understand how ZEN and related metabolites accumulate in swine reproductive tissues. We conducted a feeding study to track ZEN and the metabolite α-zearalenol (α-ZEL) in swine liver and reproductive tissues. Thirty pubertal gilts were randomly assigned one of three treatments, with ten pigs in each treatment group: (1) base feed with solvent for 21 days, (2) ZEN-spiked feed for seven days followed by base feed with solvent for 14 days, and (3) ZEN-spiked feed for 21 days. At the end of the trial, liver, anterior vagina, posterior vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries, and broad ligament were collected from pigs. ZEN was found in the anterior vagina, posterior vagina, cervix, and ovaries, with significantly higher concentrations in the cervix relative to other reproductive tissues. ZEN and α-ZEL were found in liver tissue from pigs in each treatment group. Our results show that ZEN accumulates more in the cervix than other reproductive tissues. The presence of ZEN in reproductive tissues may be indicative of ZEN-related reproductive symptoms. Future work could examine how ZEN concentrations vary in reproductive tissues as a factor of the pigs age, weight, sex, or parity, to establish parameters that make pig more sensitive to ZEN.