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Evaluation of the toxicity of concentrated barley β-glucan in a 28-day feeding study in Wistar rats

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Author: Delaney, B. · Carlson, T. · Frazer, S. · Zheng, T. · Hess, R. · Ostergren, K. · Kierzek, K. · Haworth, J. · Knutson, N. · Junker, K. · Jonker, D.
Institution: TNO Voeding
Source:Food and Chemical Toxicology, 4, 41, 477-487
Identifier: 237036
doi: doi:10.1016/S0278-6915(02)00298-3
Keywords: Toxicology · Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology · β-Glucan · Barley · Lymphocytes · Soluble fiber · beta glucan · cholesterol · animal experiment · animal model · animal tissue · article · barley · blood clotting · cholesterol blood level · clinical chemistry · controlled study · erythrocyte · feeding · female · fluid intake · food intake · food poisoning · growth · male · nonhuman · organ weight · rat · sex difference · stomach emptying · Animal Feed · Animals · Behavior, Animal · Blood Chemical Analysis · Body Weight · Diet · Dietary Fiber · Drinking · Eating · Erythrocyte Count · Female · Glucans · Hordeum · Leukocyte Count · Male · Nervous System Diseases · Organ Size · Rats · Rats, Wistar · Animalia · Avena · Hordeum vulgare subsp. vulgare · Rattus norvegicus · Rodentia


β-Glucans are water-soluble cell-wall polysaccharides consisting of (1→3,1→4)-linked β-D-glucopyranosyl monomers that comprise a considerable proportion of soluble fiber from certain grains including oats and barley. Consumption of foods containing β-glucan or β-glucan-enriched fractions prepared from these grains lower serum cholesterol concentrations in humans and in animal models of hypercholesterolemia. The present study was conducted to evaluate the toxicity of β-glucan-enriched soluble fiber from barley in Wistar rats on dietary administration at concentrations of 0.7, 3.5 and 7% β-glucan for 28 days. There were no adverse effects on general condition and behavior, growth, feed and water consumption, feed conversion efficiency, red blood cell and clotting potential parameters, clinical chemistry values, and organ weights. Necropsy and histopathology findings revealed no treatment-related changes in any organ evaluated. A dose-dependent increase in full and empty cecum weight was observed. This is a common physiological response of rodents to high amounts of poorly digestible, fermentable carbohydrates, and was of no toxicological concern. The only finding of possible biological relevance was an increase in the number of circulating lymphocytes observed in males. However, the increase was not dose-dependent and was not observed in females. Results of this study demonstrated that consumption of concentrated barley β-glucan was not associated with any obvious signs of toxicity in Wistar rats even following consumption of large quantities. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.