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Animals 2018, 8(12), 227;

Dietary Zinc Supplementation to Prevent Chronic Copper Poisoning in Sheep

Laboratory of Animal Health (LARSANA), Federal University of Western Pará (UFOPA), Rua Vera Paz, S/N, Salé, CEP 68040-255 Santarém, PA, Brazil
Departamento de Patoloxía Animal, Facultade de Veterinaria, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 27002 Lugo, Spain
Department of Animal Science, Federal Rural University of the Semiarid Region (UFERSA), Av. Francisco Mota, S/N, Bairro Pres. Costa e Silva, CEP 59625-900 Mossoró, RN, Brazil
Department of Clinical Science, College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Sao Paulo (FMVZ/USP), Av. Prof. Orlando Marques de Paiva, 87, Cidade Universitária, CEP 05508-270, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
Departamento de Anatomía Produción Animal e Ciencias Clínicas Veterinarias, Facultade de Veterinaria, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, 27002 Lugo, Spain
Federal University of Vale do São Franciso (UNIVASF), Av. José de Sá Maniçoba, S/N, Centro, CEP: 56304-917, Petrolina, PE, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 September 2018 / Revised: 24 October 2018 / Accepted: 30 October 2018 / Published: 30 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animals)
Full-Text   |   PDF [649 KB, uploaded 30 November 2018]   |  

Simple Summary

Sheep are susceptible to copper toxicosis, a deadly disease that usually occurs when the animals ingest large amounts of this mineral. Considering that the susceptibility of sheep to copper accumulation varies widely among breeds and from animal to animal., we evaluate whether Zn supplementation could be an option as a preventive measure to protect against hepatic Cu accumulation in sheep. Zn at 300 mg/kg dry matter (DM) is useful for preventing excessive hepatic Cu accumulation. Hepatic Cu accumulation is lower in animals receiving the Zn supplementation.


The aim of this study was to evaluate whether zinc (Zn) supplementation protects against hepatic copper (Cu) accumulation in copper-loaded sheep. Forty cross-bred lambs were assigned to five experimental groups. These included the control group (C) and four treatment groups that received Cu and/or Zn supplementation (dry matter (DM) basis) over 14 weeks, as follows: Cu (450 mg Cu/kg); Zn-35 (450 mg Cu + 35 mg Zn/kg); Zn-150 (450 mg Cu + 150 mg Zn/kg); and Zn-300 (450 mg Cu + 300 mg Zn/kg). Blood, liver, and bile samples were obtained for mineral determination by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP–OES). The hepatic metallothionein (MT) concentrations were also determined. At the end of the experiment, hepatic Cu concentrations were higher in all Cu-supplemented groups than in C. Hepatic Cu accumulation was lower in the groups receiving the Zn supplementation than in the Cu group, although the difference was only statistically significant (66%) in the Zn-300 group. The MT concentrations tended to be higher (almost two-fold) in the Zn groups (but were not dose related) than in the C and Cu groups, and they were related to hepatic Zn concentrations. Zn supplementation at 300 mg/kg DM is useful for preventing excessive hepatic Cu accumulation in sheep exposed to high dietary concentrations of Cu. View Full-Text
Keywords: chronic copper poisoning; toxicity; sheep; liver; metallothionein chronic copper poisoning; toxicity; sheep; liver; metallothionein

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Minervino, A.H.H.; López-Alonso, M.; Barrêto Júnior, R.A.; Rodrigues, F.A.M.L.; Araújo, C.A.S.C.; Sousa, R.S.; Mori, C.S.; Miranda, M.; Oliveira, F.L.C.; Antonelli, A.C.; Ortolani, E.L. Dietary Zinc Supplementation to Prevent Chronic Copper Poisoning in Sheep. Animals 2018, 8, 227.

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