Histopathologic and ultrastructural alterations of white liver disease in sheep experimentally depleted of cobalt.Vet Pathol. 1997 Nov; 34(6):575-84.VP
Many cobalt-deficient sheep develop liver lesions known as ovine "white liver" disease, but the etiology of these changes is controversial. It has been suggested that cofactors are required for development of liver damage in cobalt-deficient sheep. In this study, one group of lambs (n = 5) was fed a diet low in cobalt (4.5 micrograms/kg) while a group of control lambs (n = 4) received the same diet after it had been supplemented with cobalt (1000 micrograms/kg). All cobalt-depleted lambs had reduced growth rate, anorexia, lacrimation, and alopecia, and they eventually became emaciated (mean body weight at end of study: 83% of initial body weight). Plasma concentrations of bilirubin and serum activity of glutamate-oxaloacetate transferase were elevated in these animals, while plasma concentrations of vitamin B12 were reduced (less than 220 pmol/L from day 42). Fatty degeneration of the liver associated with reduced concentrations of vitamin B12 (14.5 pmol/g) was seen in these animals at necropsy at 196 days. Microscopic liver lesions included accumulation of lipid droplets and lipofuscin particles in hepatocytes, dissociation and necrosis of hepatocytes, and sparse infiltration by neutrophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes. Ultrastructural hepatocytic alterations included swelling, condensation and proliferation of mitochondria, hypertrophy of smooth endoplasmic reticulum, vesiculation and loss of arrays of rough endoplasmic reticulum, and accumulation of lipid droplets and lipofuscin granules in cytoplasm of hepatocytes. No liver lesions were seen in control lambs. The results of this study indicate that cofactors are not a prerequisite to development of hepatic damage in cobalt-deficient sheep. Reduced activities of the vitamin B12-dependent enzymes, methylmalonyl CoA mutase and methionine synthase, and lipid peroxidation are of likely pathogenetic importance in the development of the lesions.