Heliotropium europaeum Poisoning in Cattle and Analysis of its Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid Profile

Shimshoni, J.A.; Mulder, P.P.J.; Bouznach, A.; Edery, N.; Pasval, I.; Barel, S.; Khaliq, M.A.E.; Perl, S.


Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are carcinogenic and genotoxic phytochemicals found exclusively in angiosperms. The ingestion of PA-containing plants often results in acute and chronic toxicities in man and livestock, targeting mainly the liver. During February 2014, a herd of 15-18-month-old mixed-breed beef cattle (n = 73) from the Galilee region in Israel was accidently fed hay contaminated with 12% Heliotropium europaeum (average total PA intake was 33 mg PA/kg body weight/d). After 42 d of feed ingestion, sudden death occurred over a time period of 63 d with a mortality rate of 33%. Necropsy and histopathological examination revealed fibrotic livers and moderate ascites, as well as various degrees of hyperplasia and fibrosis of bile duct epithelial cells. Elevated ¿-glutamyl-transferase and alkaline phosphatase levels were indicative of severe liver damage. Comprehensive PA profile determination of the contaminated hay and of native H. europaeum by LC-MS/MS revealed the presence of 30 PAs and PA-N-oxides, including several newly reported PAs and PA-N-oxides of the rinderine and heliosupine class. Heliotrine- and lasiocarpine-type PAs constituted 80% and 18% of the total PAs, respectively, with the N-oxides being the most abundant form (92%). The PA profile of the contaminated hay showed very strong resemblance to that of H. europaeum