In vitro biodegradation of hepatotoxic indospicine in Indigofera spicata and its degradation derivatives by camel foregut and cattle rumen fluids.
The known accumulation of the hepatotoxin indospicine in tissues of camels and cattle grazing Indigofera pasture plants is unusual in that free amino acids would normally be expected to be degraded during the fermentation processes in these foregut fermenters. In this study, in vitro experiments were carried out to examine the degradability of indospicine of Indigofera spicata by camel and cattle foregut microbiota. In the first experiment, a 48 h in vitro incubation was carried out using foregut fluid samples that were collected from 15 feral camels and also a fistulated cow. Degradability of indospicine ranged between 97% and 99%, with the higher value of 99% for camels. A pooled sample of foregut fluids from three camels that were on a roughage diet was used in a second experiment to examine the time-dependent degradation of indospicine present in the plant materials. Results indicated that camels' foregut fluids have the ability to biodegrade ∼99% of the indospicine in I. spicata within 48 h of incubation and produced 2-aminopimelamic acid and 2-aminopimelic acid. The time-dependent degradation analysis showed rapid indospicine degradation (65 nmol/h) during the first 8-18 h of incubation followed by a slower degradation rate (12 nmol/h) between 18 and 48 h. Indospicine degradation products were also degraded toward the end of the experiment. The results of these in vitro degradation studies suggest that dietary indospicine may undergo extensive degradation in the foregut of the camel, resulting in trace levels after 48 h. The retention time for plant material in the camel foregut varies depending on feed quality, and the results of this study together with the observed accumulation of indospicine in camel tissues suggest that, although indospicine can be degraded by foregut fermentation, this degradation is not complete before the passage of the digesta into the intestine.