Hepatocyte Alterations and Impact on Reproduction among New Zealand White Female Rabbits Fed Diets with Varying Levels of Aflatoxin


  • J. B. Kitilit Department of Biological Science, School of Science, University of Eldoret, Kenya
  • D. M. Mwaniki Department of Biological Science, School of Science, University of Eldoret, Kenya
  • G. N. Magak Department of Medical Physiology, School of Medicine, Maseno University, Kenya




Aflatoxin, Hepatocytes, Reproduction, Rabbits


Aflatoxin are poisonous compounds produced by fungi found in cereal grains and forage harvested or stored under humid-warm environmental conditions. Consumption of doses amounting to 20 -120 ppb of body weight per day can cause poisoning through an immediate damage on liver hepatocytes. Harmful effects of aflatoxin include their interference with both animal product production and reproductive functions. The current study sought to determine the histopathology of the liver by aflatoxin contained in the diet consumed by New Zealand white rabbits. Sixteen rabbits kept in cages were fed diets containing four levels of aflatoxin in four treatments 1 (0- level of aflatoxin), treatment 2 (100 ppb aflatoxin), treatment 3 (200 ppb aflatoxin) and treatment 4 (400 ppb aflatoxin) for a period of forty five days. The rabbits aged three months were kept in cages inside a housing structure with sufficient ventilation and 12 hour lighting daily. At the end of the feeding period, one rabbit from each treatment group was taken to anatomy and pathological laboratory, where it was humanely sacrificed and the liver harvested for histological examination. The liver tissue was sectioned and mounted on slides for microscopy. The results showed effects on the liver in all the treatment diets that contained aflatoxin. Marked focal inflammation and tissue infiltration in the periportal area of the liver were observed. The liver is the organ with the highest activation of oestrogen receptors in an animal’s body, but is dependent on the intake of sufficient amount of amino acids by the animal through its diet. Sufficient amount of oestrogen receptors, activate the secretion of Estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), which expresses itself in the uterus and ovary to cause the release of estrogen and synthesis of Insulin-like growth factor 1(IGF-1), the former activates the hypothalamus to release gonadotropic releasing hormone, which target the anterior pituitary gland for the release of gonadotrophs. Aflatoxin therefore, caused inflammatory reactions on hepatocytes and cell infiltration in rabbits in treatment 2, 3 and 4, but the pathological level was higher for the latter two treatments. Rabbit diets must not contain more than 100 ppb of aflatoxin to avoid its general effects on their reproduction.


Abert, B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Morgan, D., Raff M., Roberts, K. & Walter, P. (2015). Molecular Biology of the cell. The problem book, 6th Edition, Garland Science, Taylor and Francis group, New Yolk, USA.

Azab, S., Abdelhamid, Shalaby, R., Mehrin, A., & Ibrahim, A. (2008). Study of aflotixin B1 as a Risk factor that impair the reproductive performance in female – female. The internet J. of Toxicology. Vol. 6 No 1. B1.

Barrett, J. R. (2005). Liver cancer and aflatoxin: New information from the Kenyan outbreak Environmental Health Perspective, 113(12): 837-838.

FAO (1997). World regulation for Mycotoxins 1995 – Compendium. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper No 64. Rome.

FAO (2010). FAO food and Nutrition paper No 81. Worldwide regulations for mycotoxins in food and feed. Rome.

Gong, Y. Y, Watson, S., & Routledge M. N. (2016). Aflatoxin exposure and associated human Health effects, a review of epidemiological studies, Food Saf. 4:14–27. Health issue, Carcinogenesis 31: 71–82.

Jones, F. T., Genter, M. B., Hagler, W. M., Hansen, J. A., Mowrey, B. A., Poore, M. H., & Whitlow, L. W. (1994). Understanding and coping with effects of mycotoxins in livestock feed and forage. AG (North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service) (USA). no. 523.

Mutegi C. K, Cotty P. J., & Bandyopadhyay, R. (2018). Prevalence and mitigation of aflatoxin in Kenya (1960 to date). World mycotoxin journal 11(3): 341 – 357.

Peles, F., Sipos, P., Győri, Z., Pfliegler, W. P., Giacometti, F., Serraino, A., ... & Pócsi, I. (2019). Adverse effects, transformation and channeling of aflatoxins into food raw materials in livestock. Frontiers in microbiology, 10, 2861.

Saad-Hussein, A., Moubarz, G., Mohgah, S. A., Wafaa, G. S., & Aya, H. M. (2019). Role of antioxidant supplementation in oxidant/ antioxidant status and hepatotoxic effects due to aflatoxin B1 in wheat miller workers. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 16(4)

Santos, J. E. P., Bisinotto, R. S., Ribeiro, E. S., Lima, F. S., Greco, L. F., Staples, C. R., ... & Pate, J. L. (2011). Applying nutrition and physiology to improve reproduction in dairy cattle. Reproduction in Domestic Ruminants VII, 387-403

Santos, J. E. P, Bisinotto, R. S, Ribeiro, E. S., Lima, F. S, Greco, L. F, Stapple, C. R., & Thatche,r W. W. (2010). Applying Nutrition and physiology to improve reproduction in dairy cattle. Reproduction in domestic animals. University of Florida, Gainsville, Florida, USA.

Santos, R. R., Schoevers, E. J., Roelen, B. A. J., & Fink-Gremmels, J. (2013). Mycotoxins and female reproduction: in vitro approaches. World Mycotoxin Journal, 6(3), 245-253. Arilifecdn.tamu.edu/afridairycowfertility/file/2014

Shiomi, M. (2009). Rabbit as a model for the study of human diseases. In: Houdebine L.M., Fan J. (ed) Rabbit Biotechnology. Springer, Dordrencht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2227-1-7

Sugawara, J., Fukaya, T., Murakami, T., Yoshida, H., & Yajima, A. (1997). Hepatocyte growth factor stimulates proliferation, migration, and lumen formation of human endometrial epithelial cells in vitro. Biology of reproduction, 57(4), 936-942.

Sun, L. H., Lei, M. Y., Zhang, N. Y., Gao, X., Li, C., Krumm, C. S., & Qi, D. S. (2015). Individual and combined cytotoxic effects of aflatoxin B1, zearalenone, deoxynivalenol and fumonisin B1 on BRL 3A rat liver cells. Toxicon, 95, 6-12.

Tang, Z. R., Zhang, R., Lian, Z. X., Deng, S. L., & Yu, K. (2019). Estrogen-receptor expression and function in female reproductive disease. Cells, 8(10), 1123.

Torre, S. D., Biserni, A., Rando, G., Monteleone, G., Ciana, P., Komm, B., & Maggi, A. (2011). The conundrum of estrogen receptor oscillatory activity in the search for an appropriate hormone replacement therapy. Endocrinology, 152(6), 2256-2265

Yassein, S. N., & Zghair, Z. R. (2012). Study of toxicity and pathogenicity of aflatoxin B1 and G1 in Mice. Al- Anbar J. Vet. Sci., 5:23-31

Yiannikouris, A., & Jonany, J. (2002). Mycotoxins in feeds and their fate in Animals. Anim. Res. 51: 81-99

Zhang, L. Ye, Y. An, Y. Tian, Y. Wang, Y., & Tang, H. (2010). Systems responses of rats to aflatoxin b1 exposure revealed with metabonomic changes in multiple biological matrices. J. Proteome Res. 10: 614–623.




How to Cite

Kitilit, J. B. ., Mwaniki, D. M. ., & Magak, G. N. . (2022). Hepatocyte Alterations and Impact on Reproduction among New Zealand White Female Rabbits Fed Diets with Varying Levels of Aflatoxin. Africa Environmental Review Journal, 5(2), Pg 21–28. https://doi.org/10.2200/aerj.v5i2.248