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The relative toxicity of Delphinium stachydeum in mice and cattle

Daniel Cook, Kevin D. Welch, Benedict T. Green, Dale R. Gardner, James A. Pfister, John R. Constantino, Clinton A. Stonecipher
Toxicon 2015 v.99 no. pp. 36-43
Delphinium barbeyi, Delphinium occidentale, alkaloids, animal models, cattle, chemical composition, chemical constituents of plants, exercise, heart rate, mice, poisoning, poisonous plants, prediction, rangelands, toxicity, Canada, Western United States
Larkspurs (Delphinium spp.) are poisonous plants on rangelands throughout the Western United States and Canada. Larkspur-induced poisoning in cattle is due to norditerpene alkaloids that are represented by two main structural groups of norditerpene alkaloids, the N-(methylsuccinimido) anthranoyllycoctonine type (MSAL-type) and the non-MSAL type. Information on the alkaloid composition and resulting toxicity in mice and cattle is lacking for a number of Delphinium species, including Delphinium stachydeum. The objective of this study was to determine the alkaloid composition of D. stachydeum and to characterize its relative toxicity in mice and cattle compared to two reference species Delphinium barbeyi and Delphinium occidentale. D. stachydeum contains the non-MSAL-type alkaloids but not the MSAL-type alkaloids. D. stachydeum was less toxic than D. barbeyi and D. occidentale in the mouse model. D. stachydeum was less toxic than the MSAL-containing D. barbeyi but much more toxic than the non-MSAL-containing D. occidentale in cattle as measured by heart rate and time of exercise. These results indicate that predictions of Delphinium toxicity can't be accurately made based solely on results from the mouse model or the absence of the MSAL-type alkaloids in the plant.