Feed contamination with zearalenone promotes growth but affects the immune system of rainbow trout.

Woźny, Maciej; Obremski, Kazimierz; Hliwa, Piotr; Gomułka, Piotr; Różyński, Rafał; Wojtacha, Paweł; Florczyk, Maciej; Segner, Helmut; Brzuzan, Paweł (2019). Feed contamination with zearalenone promotes growth but affects the immune system of rainbow trout. Fish & shellfish immunology, 84, pp. 680-694. Elsevier Science 10.1016/j.fsi.2018.10.032

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To investigate the effects of feed contamination with zearalenone (ZEN) at the current European Commission (EC) guidance value (2 mg⋅kg feed) on the growth and health of rainbow trout, we performed a long-term feeding trial under aquaculture conditions. It started with the external feeding of the fish larvae, and continued for 96 weeks, at which point the fish had reached market size. To assess the growth of fish and their feeding efficiency throughout this period, the fish were regularly weighed and measured, and their feed consumption was monitored. Additionally, to investigate potential health effects, after 72 weeks of the exposure to ZEN, the fishes' blood was analyzed for major hematological and biochemical indices, and their head kidney, spleen, and liver were examined for morphological, histopathological, cytological, and molecular changes. Finally, to gain insight into the metabolism and distribution of ZEN in fish, the content of free and glucuronidated forms of ZEN and its major metabolites was measured in the intestine, liver, and muscles of the exposed fish. The feed-borne exposure of rainbow trout to ZEN at a dose of 2 mg⋅kg feed resulted in higher feeding efficiency and growth rate, most probably due to the anabolic properties of the ZEN metabolite. Importantly for the consumers of fish, despite absorption and metabolism of ZEN in the digestive system of the fish that had been exposed for 72 weeks, the residuals of ZEN were not transferred to the fishes' muscles, which rules out a potential risk to human health related to the consumption of fish meat. However, the increased growth of fish fed with the contaminated feed may come at some cost, as the exposure to ZEN was associated with modulation of key components of the adaptive and innate immune systems. Moreover, the trunk kidney of ZEN-fed fish showed massive inflammation that was likely caused by pathogen infection. These findings raise concerns about fish health under the current recommended EC guidance values.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP)
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Center for Fish and Wildlife Health (FIWI)

UniBE Contributor:

Segner, Helmut


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




Elsevier Science




Achim Braun Parham

Date Deposited:

04 Jun 2019 11:42

Last Modified:

04 Jun 2019 11:42

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

B lymphocytes Cytokines Guidance value Kidney inflammation Proliferative kidney disease Recommended levels Sustainable aquaculture Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae Zeranol





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