Digestive system effects, and direct or indirect effects on appetite and/or energy metabolism, may account for the principle economic losses due to trichothecene mycotoxicoses. With regard to overt clinical manifestations of trichothecene toxicoses, the effects on the digestive tract are most obvious and, therefore, among the most commonly reported. In many instances, trichothecene-induced digestive system alterations affect animal performance, general health, and sometimes survival. Whether due to digestive system damage or dysfunction, nervous system effects on appetite, or other factors, animals given feeds containing toxic concentrations of trichothecenes tend to exhibit reduced intake. These alterations in feed intake are discussed further in the chapter “Lethal Toxicity and Nonspecific Effects”. Decreased intake alone reduces energy available for growth and sustenance. An untested hypothesis is that attempts to compensate for processes impaired due to trichothecene-induced protein synthesis inhibition and/or to repair tissue damage may account for increased energy demand. Alternatively, specific trichothecene effects on energy metabolism may exist. In vitro assays, however, must be interpreted in view of actual toxic doses of trichothecenes in animals and the potency of trichothecenes as inhibitors of protein synthesis, as discussed in previous chapters.
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