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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Pheasant's Eye (Adonis Aestavalis) Toxicity in Livestock and Rodents

Authors
item Stegelmeier, Bryan
item Hall, Jeffrey - UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY
item Lee, Stephen
item James, Lynn
item Gardner, Dale
item Panter, Kip
item Ralphs, Michael
item Pfister, James

Submitted to: Poisonous Plant Global Research and Solutions
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 31, 2006
Publication Date: June 20, 2007
Citation: Stegelmeier, B.L., Hall, J.O., Lee, S.T., James, L.F., Gardner, D.R., Panter, K.E., Ralphs, M.H., Pfister, J.A. 2007. Pheasant's eye (adonis aestavalis) toxicity in livestock and rodents. Poisonous Plant Global Research and Solutions. Chpt. 79, pp. 463 - 468.

Interpretive Summary: Adonis aestavalis (pheasant’s eye) is an introduced European species that contains several poisons that damage the heart. These poisons are similar to digoxin, a common heart medication, that causes the heart to beat harder by inhibiting membrane bound sodium pumps. Since pheasant’s eye is not highly palatable, most poisonings are caused by contaminated hay. In field poisoning animals often die with minimal or non-apparent gross or histologic lesions. The purpose of this study was to verify Adonis toxicity in a rodent model and document the histologic and ultrastructural lesions of poisoning. Adonis aestavalis was collected, frozen, freeze dried, finely ground, and dosed to 3 groups of 10 Syrian hamsters at a rate of 0, 100 and 200 mg/kg QID for 7 days. High dose animals developed diarrhea, anorexia and became reluctant to move. Poisoned animal had subtle microscopic lesions in their hearts seen with both light and electron microscopy. These findings indicated the Adonis aestavalis is toxic but as animals quickly die, the microscopic lesions are small and much less severe than those seen in animals poisoned with digoxin or other toxic plants that have similar cardiac poisons.

Technical Abstract: Adonis aestavalis (pheasant’s eye) is an introduced European species that contains several cardenolides including adonitoxin, cymarin, K-strophanthin, and vernadigin. These cardenolides, more potent than digitoxin, produce similar positive inotropic effects by inhibiting membrane bound Na-K ATPase. Since pheasant’s eye is not highly palatable, most poisonings are caused by contaminated hay. In field poisoning animals often die with minimal or non-apparent gross or histologic lesions. The purpose of this study was to verify Adonis toxicity in a rodent model and document the histologic and ultrastructural lesions of poisoning. Adonis aestavalis was collected, frozen, freeze dried, finely ground, and dosed to 3 groups of 10 Syrian hamsters at a rate of 0, 100 and 200 mg/kg QID for 7 days. High dose animals developed diarrhea, anorexia and became reluctant to move. Histologically the myocardial lesions were subtle with focal myocyte swelling and vacuolation. Ultrastructrually there were early lesions of mitochondrial swelling and myofiber disruption. These findings indicated the Adonis aestavalis is toxic and myocardial lesions typical of cardioglycoside poisoning may be minimal. The production of the classical cardioglycoside-associated myocardial lesions is variable and it is probably related to dose, duration, and recovery time.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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