Dietary exposure to ergot alkaloids decreases contractility of bovine mesenteric vasculature

A. M. Egert, D. H. Kim, F. N. Schrick, D. L. Harmon, J. L. Klotz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Ergot alkaloids are hypothesized to cause vasoconstriction in the midgut, and prior exposure may affect the vasoactivity of these compounds. The objectives of this study were to profile vasoactivity of ergot alkaloids in bovine mesenteric artery (MA) and vein (MV) and determine if previous exposure to endophyte-infected tall fescue seed affected vasoactivity of ergocryptine (ERP), ergotamine (ERT), ergocristine (ERS), ergocornine (ERO), ergonovine (ERN), lysergic acid (LSA), ergovaline-containing tall fescue seed extract (EXT), and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5HT; serotonin). Ruminally cannulated Angus steers (n = 12; BW = 547± 31 kg) were paired by weight and randomly assigned to 6 blocks. Steers were ruminally dosed daily with 1 kg of either endophyte-infected (E+; 4.45 mg ergovaline/ kg DM) or endophyte-free (E-; 0 mg ergovaline/kg DM) tall fescue seed for 21 d before slaughter. Branches of MA and MV supporting the cranial portion of the ileum were collected after slaughter on d 22, placed in a modified Krebs-Henseleit buffer on ice, cleaned, sectioned, and mounted in a multimyograph chamber. Contractile response was normalized to a maximum KCl response. Inner diameter (P = 0.04) and outer diameter (P = 0.02) of MA were smaller for E+ steers than Esteers. Maximum contractile responses to 120 mM KCl were not different between seed treatments in MA (P = 0.33; E-: 2.67 ± 0.43 g; E+: 3.33 ± 0.43 g) or MV (P = 0.26; E-: 2.01± 0.18 g; E+: 1.81 ± 0.18 g). Steers receiving E+ had a smaller (P < 0.01) MA contractile response than Esteers to ERP, ERT, ERS, ERO, ERN, EXT, and 5HT. Steers receiving E+ had a smaller (P < 0.05) MV contractile response than Esteers to ERP, ERT, ERS, ERN, EXT, and 5HT. Lysergic acid failed to induce a contractile response in MA and MV. The contractile response in MA and MV of Esteers produced by 5HT was very large. The EXT was the most potent (P < 0.05) agonist in MV and MA of E+ steers. These data showed that ergot alkaloids were vasoactive in the bovine midgut, and steers exposed to E+ had diminished contractility to some ergot alkaloids in small intestinal vasculature. The findings of this study suggest that dietary exposure to ergot alkaloids has the potential to alter nutrient absorption from the midgut by decreasing blood flow to and from the midgut due to vasoconstriction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1768-1779
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Bovine
  • Ergot alkaloid
  • Mesenteric artery and vein
  • Midgut
  • Tall fescue
  • Vasoconstriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Dietary exposure to ergot alkaloids decreases contractility of bovine mesenteric vasculature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this