Fumonisin toxicosis in swine: An overview of porcine pulmonary edema and current perspectives

Wanda M. Haschek, Laura A. Gumprecht, Geoffrey Smith, Mike E. Tumbleson, Peter D. Constable

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fumonisin toxicosis in swine was named porcine pulmonary edema (PPE) after outbreaks of a fatal disease in pigs fed Fusarium verticillioides (F. moniliforme)-contaminated corn screenings from the 1989 corn crop in Iowa, Illinois, and Georgia. Pigs that died had severe pulmonary edema, which has not been identified in other species after exposure to fumonisins. The disease has been reproduced experimentally by feeding of naturally contaminated corn, F. verticillioides culture material, and by intravenous administration of fumonisin B1 (FB1). Hepatic lesions consisting of apoptosis, necrosis, and hepatocyte proliferation also are observed. As in other species, alterations in clinical pathology reflect hepatic injury as well as elevated serum cholesterol concentration. In chronic studies, esophageal plaques, hyperplastic hepatic nodules, and right ventricular hypertrophy were found. In pigs, as in other species, fumonisin alters sphingolipid biosynthesis, with the greatest alterations in sphingosine and sphinganine concentrations in kidney, liver, lung, and heart. Our recent studies on fumonisin toxicosis in pigs have focused on immune effects and the pathogenesis of pulmonary edema. The specific immune system was not affected; however, FB1 inhibited phagocytosis and sphingolipid biosynthesis in pulmonary macrophages. Fumonisin induced an accumulation of membranous material in pulmonary capillary endothelial cells; this change appears specific to this cell type and to swine. In short-term cardiovascular studies, fumonisin decreased left ventricular dP/dtmax (an index of cardiac contractility), mean systemic arterial pressure, heart rate, and cardiac output, and increased mean pulmonary artery pressure and pulmonary artery wedge pressure. These changes are compatible with the inhibition of L-type calcium channels by increased sphingosine and/or sphinganine concentration. Therefore, fumonisin-induced pulmonary edema in swine appears to result from acute left-sided heart failure mediated by altered sphingolipid biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Cardiovascular
  • Fumonisin
  • Immune system
  • Liver
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Sphinganine
  • Sphingosine
  • Swine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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