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Hepatic lipidosis: Liver characteristics and acute phase proteins in affected turkeys

Lea Middendorf, Marion Schmicke, Kristian Düngelhoef, Erwin Sieverding, Heinrich Windhaus, Dieter Mischok, Dimitri Radko, Christian Visscher
Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 2021 v.105 Suppl S2 pp. 70-78
acute phase proteins, animal nutrition, blood, fatty liver, ferritin, flocks, iron, liver, malnutrition, pathogenesis, slaughterhouses, starvation, transferrin
The hepatic lipidosis (HL) in fattening turkeys is a disease has been known for a long time, but the cause and pathogenesis is still not clarified. A recent study reported unexplained high levels of iron in liver tissue of fattening turkeys suffering from HL. In this study, the iron status, possible infectious or inflammatory influences in form of an acute phase reaction and the analysis of fatty acid pattern in liver tissue of turkeys affected by HL were examined. Three cases of HL on three different fattening turkey farms were investigated during the outbreak of the disease. Clinically affected and non‐affected animals were subjected to a pathological examination, where the diagnosis HL or non‐affected was made. In total, 70 birds were examined (40 with HL, 30 without HL) and blood and liver samples were taken. Additionally, samples from 15 slaughtered birds were taken as a further control group. In liver tissue, the iron content and the content of long‐chain fatty acids were determined; in blood samples, ferritin and transferrin were measured. The iron content in liver tissue was more than three times higher for animals with HL than among non‐affected animals and the control group. The transferrin levels were lowest for animals with HL, highest in the control group and in between for non‐affected animals. The fatty acid pattern in liver tissue of affected animals indicated a shift from polyunsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids compared to the control group and the non‐affected animals. Overall, the non‐affected animals of a flock affected by HL were similar to the healthy animals of the abattoir. The low acute phase protein levels for animals with HL together with high iron contents could indicate a previous malnutrition/starvation period and/or severe liver damage for those animals suffering from HL.