ARS/SCA: Etiology of Fat Necrosis in Cattle Consuming Ergot Alkaloids

Grants and Contracts Details


Consumption of ergot alkaloids by cattle is associated with reduced growth performance and health. Previous research has shown that these same alkaloids alter lipid metabolism and induce lesions in abdominal adipose depots; providing an avenue for deleterious actions of these compounds. The mechanism(s) by which alkaloids impact adipose tissues is unclear, however, the observed lesion sites and the demonstration that alkaloids are capable of binding to receptors on immune cells and gut tissues which in turn are linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and bowel disease, suggest that their actions are mediated, at least in part, through inflammatory cytokines. Thus, an experiment will be conducted to increase our understanding of the interaction between fescue-derived alkaloids, immune function and associated changes in visceral adipose metabolism and intestinal tissues. Experimental model will include abomasally cannulated steers consuming alkaloid or alkaloid-free fescue seed and a luminal challenge with bacterial lipopolysaccharide. Whole blood will be collected and adipose and GIT tissues harvested for determination of changes in cellularity, lipid metabolism, inflammatory cytokines, and gene expression. The results of this work will contribute to the identification of mechanism(s) by which fescue-derived alkaloids affect tissue metabolism and accretion including the specific effects of alkaloids on fat necrosis, allowing for the use of practical management tools to overcome these adverse effects.
Effective start/end date7/1/164/30/18


  • Agricultural Research Service


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