Macroscopic nephropathy was observed in 506 pigs at slaughter in Bulgaria in 1993/94. Histopathological changes were mainly degenerative and proliferative, and were linked with kidney hypertrophy similar to that of the classical Danish syndrome. Retention cysts formed by dilated tubules, activation or proliferation of capillary and vascular endothelium, and the development of neoplastic tissue were also observed. The most advanced pathology took the form of extensive interstitial fibrosis. Traces of ochratoxin A were found in the kidneys of the majority of 96 cases examined, and in some feed samples taken retrospectively from farms or commercial sources. The dietary ochratoxin concentration (100 μg/kg), calculated from serum analyses, closely matched the average of individually analysed feeds. In other feeds no ochratoxin A was detected and the cosmopolitan mycobiota isolated did not include the ochratoxinogenic Penicillium verrucosum that caused the Danish syndrome. Aspergillus ochraceus was rare and the isolates did not synthesise ochratoxin in laboratory culture. The unconfirmed diagnosis of ochratoxicosis suggests a complex or multi-toxin aetiology for this rather common chronic disease in Bulgaria.
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