Constriction of bovine vasculature caused by endophyte-infected tall fescue seed extract is similar to pure ergovaline

A. P. Foote, D. L. Harmon, K. R. Brown, J. R. Strickland, K. R. McLeod, L. P. Bush, J. L. Klotz

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35 Scopus citations


Ergovaline has been extensively used to study vasoactive effects of endophyte-(Neotyphodium coenophialum) infected tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum). However, initial results indicated that an extract of toxic tall fescue seed (E+EXT) is more potent than ergovaline alone in a right ruminal artery and vein bioassay. The E+EXT induced a greater contractile response than an equal concentration of ergovaline alone in the ruminal artery of heifers (P = 0.018). This led to a hypothesis that other compounds in the seed extract contribute to vasoconstriction. Thus, experiments were conducted to determine if vasoactivity of an E+EXT is different from a mixture of ergot alkaloids (ALK; ergovaline, ergotamine, ergocristine, ergocryptine, ergocornine, ergonovine, and lysergic acid) of similar concentrations and to determine if the vasoactivity of an E+EXT differs from an endophyte-free tall fescue seed extract (E-EXT). Segments of lateral saphenous vein and right ruminal artery and vein were collected from Holstein steers (n = 6) shortly after slaughter. Vessels were cleaned of excess connective tissue and fat and sliced into segments that were suspended in a multimyograph chamber with 5 mL of continually oxygenated Krebs-Henseleit buffer, equilibrated for 90 min, and exposed to a reference compound (120 mM KCl for ruminal vessels and 0.1 mM norepinephrine for saphenous vein). Increasing concentrations of each treatment (E+EXT, E-EXT, ALK, and ergovaline) were added to the respective chamber every 15 min after buffer replacement. Data were normalized as a percentage of maximal contractile response of the reference compound and fit to a sigmoidal concentration response curve. Ergovaline, ALK, and E+EXT induced similar responses in the saphenous vein, ruminal artery, and ruminal vein. The E+EXT displayed a smaller EC50 (half maximal effective concentration) than ergovaline or ALK in the saphenous vein and ruminal vein (P < 0.008), but not the ruminal artery (P = 0.31). Extrapolated maximum response was greatest in the saphenous vein for ergovaline, least for E+EXT, and intermediate for ALK (P < 0.0001). The E-EXT did not induce a contractile response in any vessel tested (P > 0.1). Data from this study indicate that ergovaline is largely responsible for the locally induced vasoconstriction of bovine vasculature observed with endophyte-infected tall fescue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1603-1609
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Ergovaline
  • Tall fescue
  • Vasoconstriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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