Biomarker analysis: key to animal mycotoxin stress management

28 Aug 2023

Biomarker analysis: key to animal mycotoxin stress management

Biomarker analysis: key to animal mycotoxin stress management

Despite recent technological advances, mycotoxins are still one of the biggest issues in modern animal farming. The lack of accurate evaluation tools for the real mycotoxin impact on animals leaves the producer with doubts. However, the introduction of biomarker analysis at industrial level has enabled the precise measurement of the mycotoxin systemic exposure and its impact on animal performance and health. 

A combined feed and blood analyses

For the first time it is possible to achieve what the scientific community, for a long time, theorised as the best method to correctly assess the true exposure of animals to mycotoxins. By detecting them and their metabolites in bodily fluids, in this case blood. Innovad has validated and patented a method to currently determine 36 different mycotoxin biomarkers in blood using the so-called FTA cards. The cards offer a simple means to easily collect blood spots and dispatch them to our lab for analysis without restrictions.

 

Biomarkers discovered real risk

gota-sangreThe feed mycotoxin analysis combined with blood analysis, provides a more complete overview of the overall mycotoxin risk. A few months after launching the service, more than 6,500 blood samples from animals around the world have already been analysed.

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The considerable volume of analytes tested has enabled an unprecedented reliable assessment of actual mycotoxin exposure on farms.

 

The findings demonstrate that current practices for detecting mycotoxin risk in feed alone are not up to the task.

 

Additionally, in most cases (82%) blood analysis uncovered a mycotoxin risk ignored in the feed and which would have otherwise been missed if feed alone was analysed. It is also worth stressing that the emerging mycotoxins produced by Alternaria (like tenuazonic acid) and Fusarium (enniatins and beauvericin) were the most prevalent mycotoxins detected in blood.

 

Figure 1. Distribution of total number of mycotoxins detected in feed analysis and in Myco-Marker (feed + blood analysis combined) after analysing >6,500 animals from farms around the world.

Evaluating detoxifier capacity

The Myco-Marker service on >6,500 animals confirmed that farms around the world are continually exposed to several mycotoxins simultaneously, causing economic losses. Until now, the use of mycotoxin binders has been the most common mitigation practice on farm, but their efficacy has been evaluated only through a simple in vitro binding test.

However, as the European Food Safety Agency has concluded, such simple tests performed “in the glass” do not sufficiently mimic the conditions in the digestive tract and cannot be used to demonstrate efficacy under practical conditions. State of art mycotoxin biomarker research with the University of Ghent in Belgium revealed the in vivo detoxification efficacy of Escent under multi-mycotoxin exposure scenarios.

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Efficacy under real farm conditions

However, it was indispensable to test the detoxifier technology in real farming conditions across all species, where the animals are simultaneously confronted to several stress factors, like climatic conditions, low quality of feed, vaccinations, etc.

The Myco-Marker tool was deployed alongside overall performance as well as and clinical symptoms. The analyses revealed that systemic mycotoxin levels were widely reduced (or even completely removed) when animals were treated with the feed additive for a few weeks.

In one of the biggest global egg producers, while initially seven different mycotoxins were detected in blood, only 1 mycotoxin (tenuazonic acid at trace level) was detected after few weeks of treatment usage.

This was also accompanied by 5% egg performance improvement and reduction of clinical symptoms like vomits and liver rupture. The findings from all field studies across species confirm unequivocally the solution drastically reduces systemic exposure to mycotoxins where it is really needed, that is, in the real-world environment.

 

 Biomonitoring to optimise your mitigation strategy

The combination of the diagnostic tool with the detoxifier offers the producer the innovative RISE biomonitoring program (figure 2).  The program follows a four-tier approach:

  1. Risk: quantification of the true mycotoxin RISK combining raw materials, feed and blood analysis
  2. Impact: reveal the direct IMPACT of mycotoxins on animal performance and health, specific to the farm
  3. Strategy: optimize the mitigation STRATEGY by proceeding to a fully informed decision regarding the optimum application of the scientifically proven detoxifier technology
  4. Evaluation: measure the effectiveness of the mitigation strategy.

Figure 2. The RISE biomonitoring program follows a four-tier approach (Risk, Impact, Strategy and Evaluation) to appropriately manage the mycotoxin risk and improve the benefit.

In the last year and a half, producers from all farming species have implemented the biomonitoring program and succeeded to manage the mycotoxin related stress with the help of the detoxifier technology.

In conclusion, mycotoxin biomarker analysis is an essential step forward in mycotoxin stress management plans, as for the first time it measures, the true mycotoxin risk, and the efficacy of mitigation strategies.

The comprehensive biomonitoring program provides the producer the ability to quantify the real benefit and ROI of the detoxifier technology specifically for his own farm, in relation to animal performance and health. And of course, save hundreds of thousands or millions.

RISE: Choose science – not luck.

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