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J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jan 28;52(2):380-4.

Effect of fermentation on Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) toxicity in mice.

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Department of Microbiology, Pathology and Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.


Unfortunate bovine fatalities occurring after ingestion of mold-damaged sweetpotatoes preclude the use of the culled tubers in livestock feed. In cattle, mold-damaged sweetpotatoes induce an acute respiratory distress syndrome resulting in asphyxiation. Because of this potential toxicity and the general abundance of culled sweetpotatoes, the detoxification efficacy of ensiling was explored since it is an easy and economically viable technique often applied to preserve livestock feed. Sweetpotato slices with or without mold damage were stored either frozen (to represent unfermented samples) or fermented for 6 weeks at room temperature. Following fermentation, organic extracts were generated for administration to mice. Thirty hours following administration of the extracts, mice were evaluated for gross and microscopic lesions affecting the lungs, liver, and kidneys. Fermentation of 6 weeks duration was observed to inadequately eliminate the lung, liver, and kidney toxicity caused by mold-damaged sweetpotatoes. In fact, fermentation exacerbated the hepatotoxicity of mold-damaged sweetpotatoes. This is also the first demonstration that sweetpotato regions lacking visible mold damage can induce lung and kidney injury, which, however, is preventable by fermentation.

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