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Open Access Research article

The study of the Oxytropis kansuensis-induced apoptotic pathway in the cerebrum of SD rats

Hao Lu, Liang Zhang, Shan-shan Wang, Wen-long Wang and Bao-yu Zhao*

Author Affiliations

College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, People’s Republic of China

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:217  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-217

Published: 22 October 2013



Locoweeds cause significant livestock poisoning and economic loss all over the world. Animals can develop locoism, a chronic neurological disease, after grazing on locoweeds. Oxytropis kansuensis is a variety of locoweed that contains swainsonine as its main toxic ingredient. The purpose of this study was to investigate the apoptotic pathway induced in the cerebrum by swainsonine.


Twenty-four Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into four groups (experimental groups I, II, III and a control group) and 6 SD rats of each group were feed in 3 cages separately. Rats were penned as groups and fed with feeds containing 15% (SW content 0.03‰), 30% (SW content 0.06‰), or 45% (SW content 0.09‰) O. kansuensis for experimental groups I, II, and III, respectively, or complete feed in the case of the control group. One hundred and nineteen days after poisoning, and all rats showed neurological disorders at different degrees, which were considered to be successful established a chronic poisoning model of O. kansuensis. rats were sacrificed and the expression of Fas, FasL, Bcl-2, Bax as well as cleaved caspase-3, -8 and -9 proteins in brain tissues were detected by Western blot. The results showed that SW treatment up-regulated Fas and Fas ligand (FasL) (P < 0.05), and that there was an increase in Bax and a decrease in Bcl-2 protein (P < 0.01). Moreover, SW treatment significantly increases the activation of caspase-3, 8 and -9, the key effectors in apoptosis pathway (P < 0.01).


Our data suggest that SW induces apoptosis in cells of the brain through death receptor and mitochondria-mediated, caspase-dependent apoptotic pathways in the brain tissue of SD rats.

Oxytropis kansuensis; Swainsonine; SD rats; Cerebrum; Apoptotic pathway