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Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, is one of the major mycotoxins to affect animal health. AFB1 contamination of aquafeed is widespread, especially in countries with humid, tropical climates. The most applied method for protecting animals against aflatoxicosis is the use of clay minerals. Growth performance, immunosuppressive effects (bactericidal activity, lysozyme activity, albumin/globulin ratio, alternative complement pathway activity, and protein content), and pathology parameters were used to evaluate the response of yellow catfish (Pelteobagrus fulvidraco) to increasing concentrations of AFB1 and test the protective effect of dietary supplementation with a bentonite (dioctahedral montmorillonite) based AFB1 binder. Triplicate groups of yellow catfish with an average weight of 2.0 ± 0.1 g were fed diets containing 0, 200, 500, and 1,000 µg/kg of AFB1 alone, or diets containing 0, 200, 500, and 1,000 µg/kg of AFB1 along with 2 g/kg AFB1 binder, for 12 weeks. Results showed that diets containing increasing amounts of AFB1 had a significantly lower (P = 0.002) survival rate. There was a statistical significant reduction in weight gain, final body weight, and specific growth rate, and an increase in feed conversion ratio (FCR) influenced by the levels of AFB1 in the diet (P < 0.001 for all parameters), as well as increasing protection due to the presence of the binder (P = 0.046, P = 0.014, P = 0.038, and P = 0.485, respectively). The immunosuppressive nature of AFB1 in yellow catfish diets was confirmed through observation of lower bactericidal activity (P = 0.001), lower lysozyme activity (P = 0.006), reduced total protein (P = 0.002), and enhanced albumin/globulin ratio (P = 0.004). Fish fed diets contaminated with AFB1 and supplemented with the AFB1 binder showed better improvement in FCR (P = 0.019). These results indicate that AFB1 has a negative impact on yellow catfish growth and survival rate. The AFB1 binder protected fish from the toxic effects of AFB1.
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