Journal of animal science

Ergot alkaloid transport across ruminant gastric tissues.

PMID 11219466


Ergot alkaloids cause fescue toxicosis when livestock graze endophyte-infected tall fescue. It is generally accepted that ergovaline is the toxic component of endophyte-infected tall fescue, but there is no direct evidence to support this hypothesis. The objective of this study was to examine relative and potential transport of ergoline and ergopeptine alkaloids across isolated gastric tissues in vitro. Sheep ruminal and omasal tissues were surgically removed and placed in parabiotic chambers. Equimolar concentrations of lysergic acid, lysergol, ergonovine, ergotamine, and ergocryptine were added to a Kreb's Ringer phosphate (KRP) solution on the mucosal side of the tissue. Tissue was incubated in near-physiological conditions for 240 min. Samples were taken from KRP on the serosal side of the chambers at times 0, 30, 60, 120, 180, and 240 min and analyzed for ergot alkaloids by competitive ELISA. The serosal KRP remaining after incubation was freeze-dried and the alkaloid species quantified by HPLC. The area of ruminal and omasal tissues was measured and the potential transportable alkaloids calculated by multiplying the moles of transported alkaloids per square centimeter of each tissue type by the surface area of the tissue. Studies were conducted to compare alkaloid transport in reticular, ruminal, and omasal tissues and to determine whether transport was active or passive. Ruminal tissue had greater ergot alkaloid transport potential than omasal tissue (85 vs 60 mmol) because of a larger surface area. The ruminal posterior dorsal sac had the greatest potential for alkaloid transport, but the other ruminal tissues were not different from one another. Alkaloid transport was less among reticular tissues than among ruminal tissues. Transport of alkaloids seemed to be an active process. The alkaloids with greatest transport potential were lysergic acid and lysergol. Ergopeptine alkaloids tended to pass across omasal tissues in greater quantities than across ruminal tissues, but their transport was minimal compared to lysergic acid and lysergol.