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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dietary pyrrolizidine (Senecio) alkaloids and tissue distribution of copper and vitamin A in broiler chickens.

The effect of feeding a diet containing 5% tansy ragwort (TR) (Senecio jacobaea), a poisonous plant containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), on the blood and liver levels of copper, zinc, iron and vitamin A in broiler chicks was examined. Serum and liver copper and liver iron concentrations were increased in chicks fed a diet with 5% TR, while serum and liver zinc and vitamin A decreased. When PA were removed from the diet, partial restoration of normal serum vitamin A level occurred, indicating that the ability to mobilize liver vitamin A is not irreversibly inhibited by PA. The decline in serum vitamin A occurred by 8 days of TR feeding with a concurrent decline in growth rate. When chicks were fed a diet high in vitamin A (25,000 IU/kg), followed by a basal diet containing TR, serum vitamin A levels were significantly (P < 0.01) decreased, while liver vitamin A level increased. This indicates that mobilization of previously stored vitamin A from the liver is impaired by PA. Prior feeding of a high vitamin A level resulted in protective effects against PA toxicity, as assessed by histopathology. This study shows that a dietary source of PA modifies metabolism and tissue distribution of minerals and vitamin A.[1]


  1. Dietary pyrrolizidine (Senecio) alkaloids and tissue distribution of copper and vitamin A in broiler chickens. Huan, J., Cheeke, P.R., Lowry, R.R., Nakaue, H.S., Snyder, S.P., Whanger, P.D. Toxicol. Lett. (1992) [Pubmed]
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