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A Fatal Case of Autumn Crocus (Colchicum Autumnale) Poisoning in a Heifer: Confirmation by Mass-Spectrometric Colchicine Detection

Kupper, Jacqueline, Rentsch, Katharina, Mittelholzer, Andreas, Artho, Romana, Meyer, Sven, Kupferschmidt, Hugo, Naegeli, Hanspeter
heifers, poisoning, Colchicum autumnale, poisonous plants, signs and symptoms (animals and humans), pastures, grazing, colchicine, gastroenteritis, blood chemistry, case studies, urine, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, temporal variation, pharmacokinetics, excretion
A heifer developed severe signs of acute gastrointestinal irritation 48 hr after ingesting fresh leaves of Colchicum autumnale growing on a damp meadow. Confirmation of the suspected toxicosis was obtained by detecting colchicine in serum and urine using liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry using atmospheric pressure chemical ionization. Although the serum colchicine concentration had declined to an apparently nontoxic level of 2.4 ng/ml, a more prominent concentration (640 ng/ml) indicative of colchicine poisoning was detected in the urine. This finding is consistent with the known toxicokinetic properties of colchicine, whereby a large volume of distribution results in low circulating blood concentrations and prolonged urinary excretion.