Antibody binding of circulating ergot alkaloids in cattle grazing tall fescue

Am J Vet Res. 1994 Mar;55(3):419-24.


Direct evidence linking alkaloids found in endophyte-infected tall fescue forage with the livestock disorder known as fescue toxicosis is lacking. Physiologic effects of fescue toxicosis include reduced serum prolactin concentration in cattle. A monoclonal antibody specific to the lysergic moiety of ergot alkaloids was developed in mice after creating an immunogen by linking lysergol to human serum albumin. The antibody was specific to the lysergic moiety and, therefore, it cross-reacted with ergot alkaloids, lysergic acid, and lysergol. The antibody did not cross-react with alkaloid derivatives that had bromated or hydrogenated lysergic ring moieties. Fescue toxicosis conditions were elicited in yearling Angus steers by permitting them to graze endophyte-infected tall fescue containing > 650 micrograms/kg of ergovaline for 60 days. Passive immunization of steers by infusion of the monoclonal antibody increased serum prolactin concentration by 7 ng/ml, beginning immediately after infusion. Control steers did not respond to treatment with bovine serum albumin. Active immunization of yearling Angus heifers with immunogens containing lysergol or ergonovine linked to human serum albumin resulted in an antibody response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / blood*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage*
  • Antibody Affinity
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Cattle
  • Cross Reactions
  • Ergot Alkaloids / blood*
  • Ergot Alkaloids / immunology
  • Ergot Alkaloids / toxicity
  • Haptens
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Male
  • Orchiectomy
  • Poaceae*
  • Prolactin / blood*
  • Serum Albumin


  • Antibodies
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Ergot Alkaloids
  • Haptens
  • Serum Albumin
  • Prolactin