Accumulation of Sapogenin Conjugates and Histological Changes in the Liver and Kidneys of Lambs Suffering from Alveld, a Hepatogenous Photosensitization Disease of Sheep Grazing Narthecium ossifragum

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Sixteen lambs exhibiting hepatogenous photosensitization (alveld) after grazing pasture containing Narthecium ossifragum and seven nonphotosensitized lambs grazing the same pastures were studied. All the alveld-affected lambs revealed liver damage dominated by single cell necrosis, portal fibroplasia and bile duct proliferation. Crystalloid clefts were demonstrated in the bile ducts of two and in the hepatocytes and Kupffer cells of nine photosensitized lambs. Plasma bilirubin concentration was severely increased in ten of the cases of alveld whereas the activity of aspartate aminotransferase was moderately to severely increased in seven cases. The activity of glutamate dehydrogenase was moderately elevated in one of the photosensitized lambs. The main histopathological findings in the kidneys from the alveld-affected lambs were dilated tubules, often with eosinophilic material in the tubular lumina. Regenerative changes were seen in a large proportion of the renal sections. Elevated plasma concentrations of urea and creatinine, and the renal histopathological changes, suggested that the photosensitized lambs had been through a phase of renal injury. Analysis of the free and conjugated sapogenin content in liver tissue and bile was performed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. There were significantly higher concentrations of conjugated episapogenins in both the liver and bile in the alveld-affected lambs than in the nonphotosensitized lambs.

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