Three experiments were conducted to assess mortality rate, blood chemistry, and histologic changes associated with acute exposure to T-2 mycotoxin in adult bobwhite quail. In Experiment 1, adult quail were orally dosed with T-2 toxin to determine the lethal dose that resulted in 50% mortality of the affected population (LD50), and that dose was determined to be 14.7 mg of T-2 toxin per kilogram of body weight (BW). A second experiment was performed to study the effects of 12–18 mg/kg BW T-2 toxin on blood chemistry and liver enzyme profiles. Posttreatment uric acid, aspartate aminotransferase, lactic dehydrogenase, and gamma glutamyltransferase increased as compared with pretreatment values. In contrast, posttreatment plasma total protein, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels numerically decreased as compared with pretreatment values. Changes in blood chemistry values were consistent with liver and kidney damage after T-2 toxin exposure. In Experiment 3, histologic analyses of bone marrow, spleen, liver, small intestine, kidney, and heart were conducted on birds dosed in Experiment 2. Marked lymphocyte necrosis and depletion throughout the spleen, thymus, bursa, and gut-associated lymphoid tissue in the small intestine were observed in birds dosed with 15 and 18 mg/kg BW T-2 toxin. Necrosis of liver and lipid accumulation as a result of malfunctioning hepatocytes were also observed. Little or no morphologic change was observed in bone marrow and heart tissue.
The LD50 for adult bobwhite quail as found in this study is two to three times higher than that reported for other species of commercial poultry. Results from these data confirm previous reports of immunosuppressive and/or cytotoxic effects of T-2 toxin in other mammalian and avian species. T-2 toxin may have a negative impact on the viability of wild quail populations.