Hemodynamic responses of the caudal artery to toxic tall fescue in beef heifers

J Anim Sci. 2007 Sep;85(9):2337-45. doi: 10.2527/jas.2006-821. Epub 2007 May 25.


Color Doppler ultrasonography was used to compare blood flow characteristics in the caudal artery of heifers fed diets with endophyte (Neotyphodium coenophialum) infected (E+) or noninfected (E-) tall fescue seed. Eighteen crossbred (Angus x Brangus) heifers were assigned to 6 pens and were fed chopped alfalfa hay for 5 d and chopped alfalfa hay plus a concentrate that contained E-tall fescue seed for 9 d during an adjustment period. An 11-d experimental period followed, with animals in 3 pens fed chopped alfalfa hay plus a concentrate with E+ seed and those in the other 3 pens fed chopped hay plus concentrate with E E- seed. Color Doppler ultrasound measurements (caudal artery area, peak systolic velocity, end diastolic velocity, mean velocity, heart rate, stroke volume, and flow rate) and serum prolactin were monitored during the adjustment (baseline measures) and during the experimental period. Three baseline measures were collected on d 3, 5, and 6 during the adjustment period for comparison to post E+ seed exposure. Statistical analyses compared the proportionate differences between baseline and response at 4, 28, 52, 76, 100, 172, and 268 h from initial feeding of E+ seed. Serum prolactin concentrations on both diets were lower (P <0.001) than baseline beginning at 4 h from the start of the experimental period. However, trends in serum prolactin concentrations for heifers on the E- diet suggested ambient temperature was affecting these concentrations. Caudal artery area in E+ heifers had declined (P <0.10) from baseline by 4 h and was consistently lower (P <0.05) for the remainder of the period. Heart rates for E+ heifers were lower than the baseline rate from 4 (P <0.10) to 100 (P <0.001) h, but were similar (P >0.10) to the baseline for 172 and 268 h measures. Blood flow in E+ heifers was consistently lower than the baseline from 4 (P <0.05) to 172 (P <0.001) h, but was similar to the baseline at 268 h when heart rate was similar to the baseline rate. Caudal artery areas for the E- diet were similar to baseline areas except at 100 h when it was greater than baseline. Heart rates and flow rates for E- heifers did not differ (P >0.10) from baseline measures during the experimental period. Results indicated that onset of toxicosis was within 4 h of cattle exposure to E+ tall fescue and is related to vasoconstriction and reduction in heart rate.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / adverse effects*
  • Animal Feed / microbiology
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity / drug effects
  • Blood Flow Velocity / veterinary*
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Festuca / microbiology*
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Fungi
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Hypocreales / growth & development*
  • Hypocreales / pathogenicity
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Seeds / microbiology
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color / veterinary
  • Vasoconstriction / drug effects*


  • Prolactin