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J Avian Med Surg. 2010 Sep;24(3):210-21.

Determination of an oral aflatoxin dose that acutely impairs hepatic function in domestic pigeons (Columba livia).

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  • 1Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, 2407 River Dr, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.


Aflatoxin B1 is a common hepatotoxin in birds. The goal of this study was to establish an acute model for hepatotoxicosis and decreased hepatic function in the white Carneaux pigeon (Columba livia) via oral administration of this mycotoxin. Aflatoxin B1 was orally administered at a dose of 3 mg/kg dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide to 3 groups of pigeons every 24 hours for 2, 4, and 6 consecutive days, respectively. Diagnostic modalities used to evaluate hepatic damage and impaired hepatic function pre- and postaflatoxin administration included liver enzyme activity, bile acid levels, scintigraphy, and histopathologic evaluation of liver biopsy specimens. Deaths occurred in all groups, increasing with the number of consecutive days the aflatoxin B1 was dosed. Significant histopathologic lesions were seen on evaluation of hepatic tissue from each group after accumulated aflatoxin exposure (P < .05); therefore, an oral aflatoxin B1 dose of 3 mg/kg given for 2 consecutive days was selected for the purpose of inducing acute hepatic damage while minimizing mortality. However, although increased liver enzyme activity indicated hepatocellular damage at this dosage, bile acids testing and hepatobiliary scintigraphy did not show significantly decreased hepatic function.

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