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Neurohistologic and Ultrastructural Lesions in Cattle Experimentally Intoxicated with the Plant Prosopis juliflora

Tabosa, I. M., Riet-Correa, F., Barros, S. S., Summers, B. A., Simões, S. V. D., Medeiros, R. M. T., Nobre, V. M. T.
cattle, poisoning, poisonous plants, Prosopis juliflora, motor neurons, mitochondria, central nervous system diseases, transmission electron microscopy, ultrastructure, Brazil
Intoxication by pods of Prosopis juliflora (mesquite beans) causes an impairment of cranial nerve function in cattle and goats. In goats, vacuolation of neurons in the trigeminal motor nuclei has been reported. To study the lesions in cattle caused by consumption of P. juliflora pods and dry ground pods, eight 6- to 12-month-old male cattle were divided into 4 groups: group 1 was fed a ration containing 50% of pods; groups 2 and 3 received a ration containing 50 and 75% of dry ground pods, respectively; group 4 was the control. After 200 days, all cattle were killed and sampled for histologic evaluation. Samples of the trigeminal motor nucleus were examined by electron microscopy. All cattle from groups 1, 2, and 3 showed clinical signs resulting from impaired function of cranial nerves V, IX, X, and XII, starting 45-75 days after consumption of the plant. The main histologic lesions were vacuolation and loss of neurons in trigeminal motor nuclei and other motor cranial nerve nuclei with Wallerian-like degeneration in the cranial nerves. Mild denervation atrophy was observed in the masseter and other masticatory muscles. On electron microscopy, neurons of the trigeminal nuclei had markedly swollen mitochondria, with the mitochondrial cristae displaced peripherally, disoriented and disintegrating. Intoxication by P. juliflora seems to have a novel pathogenesis, characterized by a selective, primary, chronic, and progressive injury to mitochondria of neurons of the trigeminal and other cranial nerve nuclei. Cranial nerve degeneration and denervation atrophy of the muscles occurs as a consequence of the neuronal lesion.