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Effects of larkspur (Delphinium barbeyi) on heart rate and electrically evoked electromyographic response of the external anal sphincter in cattle

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  • 1 USDA Agricultural Research Service, Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, 1150 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84321.
  • | 2 USDA Agricultural Research Service, Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, 1150 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84321.
  • | 3 USDA Agricultural Research Service, Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, 1150 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84321.
  • | 4 USDA Agricultural Research Service, Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, 1150 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84321.
  • | 5 USDA Agricultural Research Service, Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, 1150 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84321.
  • | 6 USDA Agricultural Research Service, Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, 1150 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84321.
  • | 7 USDA Agricultural Research Service, Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, 1150 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84321.
  • | 8 USDA Agricultural Research Service, Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, 1150 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84321.
  • | 9 USDA Agricultural Research Service, Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, 1150 E 1400 N, Logan, UT 84321.

Abstract

Objective—To determine whether larkspur-derived N-(methylsuccinimido) anthranoyllycoctonine (MSAL)-type alkaloids alter heart rate and electrically evoked electromyographic (eEMG) response of the external anal sphincter (EAS) in cattle and whether these effects can be reversed by acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.

Animals—12 beef heifers and 4 cows.

Procedures—3 or 4 heifers were used in 1 or 2 of 7 dose-response experiments; heart rate and EAS eEMG response were assessed before and 24 hours after oral treatment with larkspur (doses equivalent to 0.5 to 15 mg of MSAL-type alkaloids/kg). In 3 subsequent experiments, 3 heifers (1 of which was replaced with another heifer in the control experiment) each received 10 mg of MSAL-type alkaloids/kg and were injected IV with physostigmine (0.04 mg/kg), neostigmine (0.04 mg/kg), or saline (0.9% NaCl) solution 24 hours later, prior to assessment. Additionally, EAS eEMG response was measured in 4 cows before and after epidural administration of 2% lidocaine hydrochloride.

Results—Larkspur-treated heifers developed dose-related increases in heart rate and decreases in EAS eEMG response. Twenty-four hours after administration of MSAL-type alkaloids, neostigmine decreased heart rate but did not affect eEMG response, whereas physostigmine did not affect heart rate but caused a 2-fold increase in eEMG response. In cows, epidural anesthesia did not alter eEMG response, suggesting that transdermal stimulation of the EAS pudendal innervation did not occur.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In cattle, cardiac effects and muscle weakness or loss of EAS eEMG response induced by larkspur-derived MSAL-type alkaloids were reversed by neostigmine or physostigmine, respectively. Treatment with anticholinesterase inhibitors may alter the clinical effects of larkspur poisoning in cattle.

Contributor Notes

Supported by USDA Agricultural Research Service.

Presented in part at Experimental Biology 2008, San Diego, April 2008.

The authors thank Danny Hansen, Scott Larsen, Al Maciulis, Isabelle McCollum, and Rex Probst for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Green.