Influence of variable content of dietary zinc on copper metabolism of weanling foals

Charles H. Bridges From the Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, College Station, TX 77843-4463.

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 DVM, PhD
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Patricia Ghagan Moffitt From the Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, College Station, TX 77843-4463.

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SUMMARY

The influence of variable zinc content (29.1, 250, 1,000 and 2,000 mg/kg of dry weight) in a basic diet containing 7.7 mg of copper/kg on the ability of weanling foals to maintain normal copper balance was investigated. Serum copper and zinc concentrations were monitored, and terminal hepatic copper and zinc contents were measured in 4 weanling foals fed the basic diet containing 29.1 mg of zinc/kg and in 2 foals each fed the higher-zinc diets. Foals fed the lower-zinc diets (29.1 and 250 mg/kg) maintained normal serum copper and zinc concentrations for 14 to 15 weeks, whereas those fed the 2 higher-zinc diets became hypocupremic within 5 to 6 weeks and were lame within 6 weeks, owing to cartilaginous disease characteristic of osteochondritis dissecans. Serum zinc concentration in the foals fed the 2 higher-zinc diets increased to > 2 μg/ml within 2 weeks. Foals fed the high-zinc diets became lame after serum copper concentration had remained at 0.3 μg/ ml for > 1 week. Serum copper concentration in these arthritic foals was ≤ 0.2 μg/ml at the end of the study. In lame foals, fractures of the cartilage of the articular and growth physes occurred through the zone of hypertrophic cells, and varied from bilateral to unilateral and from small to large. Free masses and flaps of cartilage attached to one side were numerous.

SUMMARY

The influence of variable zinc content (29.1, 250, 1,000 and 2,000 mg/kg of dry weight) in a basic diet containing 7.7 mg of copper/kg on the ability of weanling foals to maintain normal copper balance was investigated. Serum copper and zinc concentrations were monitored, and terminal hepatic copper and zinc contents were measured in 4 weanling foals fed the basic diet containing 29.1 mg of zinc/kg and in 2 foals each fed the higher-zinc diets. Foals fed the lower-zinc diets (29.1 and 250 mg/kg) maintained normal serum copper and zinc concentrations for 14 to 15 weeks, whereas those fed the 2 higher-zinc diets became hypocupremic within 5 to 6 weeks and were lame within 6 weeks, owing to cartilaginous disease characteristic of osteochondritis dissecans. Serum zinc concentration in the foals fed the 2 higher-zinc diets increased to > 2 μg/ml within 2 weeks. Foals fed the high-zinc diets became lame after serum copper concentration had remained at 0.3 μg/ ml for > 1 week. Serum copper concentration in these arthritic foals was ≤ 0.2 μg/ml at the end of the study. In lame foals, fractures of the cartilage of the articular and growth physes occurred through the zone of hypertrophic cells, and varied from bilateral to unilateral and from small to large. Free masses and flaps of cartilage attached to one side were numerous.

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