The Effect of Mycotoxins and Their Mixtures on Bovine Spermatozoa Characteristics

Dorit Kalo, Paz Mendelson, Alisa Komsky-Elbaz, Hillary Voet, Zvi Roth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is growing concern about the effects of mycotoxins on mammalian reproduction. Although the effects of single mycotoxins have been well documented, the impact of their mixtures on spermatozoon quality is less known. Here, frozen-thawed semen (n = 6 bulls) was in-vitro-cultured (2 h) without (control) or with (i) a single mycotoxin [zearalenone (ZEN), ochratoxin A (OTA), toxin 2 (T2), and diacetoxyscirpenol (DAS)] in a dose-response manner; (ii) binary mixtures (OTA + T2, OTA + ZEN, OTA + DAS, ZEN + T2, DAS + T2 and ZEN + DAS); or (iii) ternary mixtures (OTA + DAS + T2, OTA + ZEN + T2, and ZEN + DAS + T2). Then, the spermatozoa quality was characterized according to its plasma- and acrosome-membrane integrity, mitochondrial membrane potential, and oxidation status by a flow cytometer. Exposure to single mycotoxins or binary mixtures did not affect the spermatozoa characteristics. However, exposure to the ternary mixtures, OTA + DAS + T2 and OTA + ZEN + T2, reduced (p < 0.05) the mitochondrial membrane potential relative to the control. In addition, OTA + ZEN + T2 increased (p < 0.05) the proportion of spermatozoa with reactive oxygen species relative to the control. The most suggested interaction effect between the mycotoxins was found to be an additive one. A synergistic interaction, mainly regarding the oxidation status of the spermatozoa, was also found between the mycotoxins. The current study sheds light on the potential risk of exposing spermatozoa to a mycotoxin mixture.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number556
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

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© 2023 by the authors.


  • bovine
  • mycotoxin interactions
  • mycotoxin mixtures
  • mycotoxins
  • spermatozoa


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