Ergot alkaloids reduce circulating serotonin in the bovine

Eriton E.L. Valente, James L. Klotz, Gyuchul Ahn, Kyle R. McLeod, Hannah M. Herzing, Mindy King, David L. Harmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Ergot alkaloids can interact with several serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) receptors provoking many physiological responses. However, it is unknown whether ergot alkaloid consumption influences 5-HT or its metabolites. Thus, two experiments were performed to evaluate the effect of ergot alkaloid feeding on 5-HT metabolism. In exp. 1, 12 Holstein steers (260 ± 3 kg body weight [BW]) were used in a completely randomized design. The treatments were the dietary concentration of ergovaline: 0, 0.862, and 1.282 mg/kg of diet. The steers were fed ad libitum, kept in light and temperature cycles mimicking the summer, and had blood sampled before and 15 d after receiving the treatments. The consumption of ergot alkaloids provoked a linear decrease (P = 0.004) in serum 5-HT. However, serum 5-hydroxytryptophan and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid did not change (P > 0.05) between treatments. In exp. 2, four ruminally cannulated Holstein steers (318 ± 3 kg BW) were used in a 4 × 4 Latin square design to examine the difference between seed sources on 5-HT metabolism. Treatments were: Control-tall fescue seeds free of ergovaline, KY 32 seeds (L42-16-2K32); 5Way-endophyteinfected seeds, 5 way (L152-11-1739); KY31-endophyte-infected seeds, KY 31 (M164-16-SOS); and Millennium-endophyteinfected seeds, 3rd Millennium (L108-11-76). The endophyte-infected seed treatments were all adjusted to provide an ergovaline dosage of 15 μg/kg BW. The basal diet provided 1.5-fold the net energy requirement for maintenance. The seed treatments were dosed directly into the rumen before feeding. The experiment lasted 84 d and was divided into four periods. In each period, the steers received seeds for 7 d followed by a 14-d washout. Blood samples were collected on day 0 (baseline) and day 7 for evaluating the treatment response in each period. A 24 h urine collection was performed on day 7. Similar to exp. 1, serum 5-HT decreased (P = 0.008) with the consumption of all endophyte-infected seed treatments. However, there was no difference (P > 0.05) between the infected seeds. The urinary excretion of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in the urine was not affected (P > 0.05) by the presence of ergot alkaloids. In conclusion, the consumption of ergot alkaloids decreases serum 5-HT with no difference between the source of endophyte-infected seeds in the bovine.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberskaa362
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • 5-hydroxytryptamine
  • Cattle
  • Ergovaline
  • Metabolism
  • Tryptophan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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