A well known response to the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) is a reduction in feed intake. This is particularly the case in pigs. According to a meta-analysis (Andretta et al 2012) DON reduces feed intake by 26% in pigs.
DON is globally the most prevalent mycotoxin in pig diets and there are signs that this year’s harvest of certain crops is contaminated with significant levels of this mycotoxin. Feed intakes at risk with DON in 2016/17 harvest
What controls appetite?
One constant physiological factor of appetite control are certain gut peptides, of which cholecystokinin (CCK) is one of them. CCK is released in response to feed intake and sends signals to the brain contributing to the sensation of satiety, when it binds to certain receptors, such as CCK1R.
Scientific studies show that CCK1R antagonists increase meal size and food intake in experimental animals, and they increase hunger, meal size, and caloric intake in humans.
Physiological effects of CCK include stimulation of gastric acid, gallbladder and pancreatic secretion, decreased gastric motility and suppression of energy intake.
Researchers studied the control of eating by CCK in pigs extensively. As in humans, carbohydrates, proteins and lipids all stimulate CCK secretion in pigs. Active immunization against CCK increased food intake and body weight in pigs (Pekas and Trout 1990) confirming the importance of CCK in feed intake.
How does DON affect appetite?
More recent studies carried out in mice show that the decreased feed intake in mice in response to DON in the diet corresponds with a significant increase in CCK in mice compared to a control diet. Studies with a relevant antagonist known to bind to the same receptors as CCK report that the negative impact of DON on feed intake in mice can be reduced through the antagonist.
The conclusion was that CCK plays a major role in feed intake reduction in response to DON. DON exposure also elicited higher proinflammatory cytokine responses in mice, which could be another cause of DON-induced anorexia.