Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Poisonous Plant Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #328960

Research Project: Understanding and Mitigating the Adverse Effects of Poisonous Plants on Livestock Production Systems

Location: Poisonous Plant Research

Title: Comparison of the serum toxicokinetics of larkspur toxins in cattle, sheep and goats

Author
item Welch, Kevin
item Gardner, Dale
item Green, Benedict - Ben
item Stonecipher, Clinton - Clint
item Cook, Daniel
item Pfister, James

Submitted to: Toxicon
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/27/2016
Publication Date: 6/30/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62780
Citation: Welch, K.D., Gardner, D.R., Green, B.T., Stonecipher, C.A., Cook, D., Pfister, J.A. 2016. Comparison of the serum toxicokinetics of larkspur toxins in cattle, sheep and goats. Toxicon. 119:270-273.

Interpretive Summary: Larkspur plants (Delphinium spp.) are abundant in western North America. They are acutely toxic to cattle, and as such they cause a significant number of cattle death losses every year, especially on foothill and mountain rangelands. Larkspurs have been shown to be toxic to horses, although horses will not voluntarily consume sufficient quantities of larkspurs to become poisoned. Sheep have been shown to be quite resistant to larkspurs. Consequently, cattle are the primary livestock species associated with larkspur toxicosis, and thus the effect of larkspurs on cattle has been the focus of the majority of the research efforts regarding larkspur toxicosis. In this study, we compared the serum toxicokinetic profiles of toxic larkspur alkaloids from D. barbeyi in cattle, goats, and sheep. Cattle and sheep are the two livestock species that are most often exposed to larkspur-infested rangelands, with cattle being more susceptible and sheep more resistant to larkspur toxicosis. It is possible that differences in the toxicokinetic profile of the toxic larkspur alkaloids could account for some of the differences in susceptibility to larkspur toxicosis between these two livestock species. We also included goats, as goats are often used as a small ruminant model to study poisonous plants. The data from this study suggest that one possible explanation for the increased resistance of goats and sheep to poisoning by larkspur could be due to differences in the toxicokinetics of the toxic larkspur alkaloids.

Technical Abstract: Larkspurs (Delphinium spp.) are a major cause of cattle losses in western North America, whereas sheep are thought to be resistant to larkspur toxicosis. Goats are often used as a small ruminant model to study poisonous plants. In this study, we compared the serum toxicokinetic profile of toxic larkspur alkaloids from D. barbeyi in cattle, goats, and sheep. The results from this study indicate that kinetic differences could partially explain species differences in susceptibility to larkspur toxicosis.