Glycoalkaloids alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine are naturally present toxicants in the potato plant (Solanum tuberosum). Human intake of high doses of glycoalkaloids has led to acute intoxication, in severe cases coma and death. Previous studies have indicated that the ratio of alpha-solanine to alpha-chaconine may determine the degree and nature of the glycoalkaloid toxicity in potatoes, as the toxicity of the two alkaloids act synergistically. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether an altered ratio of alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine would reduce the toxicity of the glycoalkaloids. The Syrian Golden hamster was given daily doses of alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine by gavage for 28 days. Doses of up to 33.3 mg total glycoalkaloids/kg body weight were applied in ratios of 1:3.7 and 1:70 (alpha-solanine:alpha-chaconine). Administration of the highest doses of both ratios resulted in distended and fluid filled small intestines and stomach. Animals receiving the ratio with the reduced content of alpha-solanine were less affected compared to those receiving the other ratio. Gene expression profiling experiments were conducted using RNA from epithelial scrapings from the small intestines of the hamsters administered the highest doses of the glycoalkaloid treatments. In general, more differential gene expression was observed in the epithelial scrapings of the hamsters fed the ratio of 1:3.7. Mostly, pathways involved in lipid and energy metabolism were affected by the ratio of 1:3.7.
- Gene expression