The potato plant (Solanum tuberosum
) is a well-known herbaceous perennial that is cultivated for production of potatoes.
Potato Toxic Components
Potatoes and parts of the potato plant contain antinutritional and potentially toxic compounds including inhibitors of digestive enzymes, hemagglutinins, and glycoalkaloids (chaconine, solanine).
These toxic chemicals occur naturally in any part of the plant, including the leaves, fruit, and tubers. At high levels, these chemicals can inhibit cholinesterase, induce teratogenicity, and disrupt cell membranes within the horse's intestinal epithelial barrier.
Research conducted on mice and humans show that this disruption of the intestinal epithelial barrier can initiate the onset of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). As a result, it permits luminal antigens unfettered access to the mucosal immune system and leads to an uncontrolled inflammatory response in the horse. Exposure to light, physical damage, and age increase glycoalkaloid content. Cooking at high temperatures (over 170 °C (340 °F)) partly destroys these toxins.