Heinz body anaemia in lambs with deficiencies of copper or selenium

N.F. Suttle, D.G. Jones, C. Woolliams, John Woolliams

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1. The progression of Heinz body anaemia was studied in groups of lambs of low- and high-copper status, produced through breeding or Cu supplementation, when they were transferred from improved pasture to rape (Brassica napus L.) in autumn. Some lambs had previously received selenium by injection. The Cu and Se supplements markedly increased superoxide dismutase (EC 1. 15. 1. 1; SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (EC 1. 11. 1. 9; GSHPx) activities respectively in the erythrocytes, and both supplements had elicited growth responses at pasture.
2. At the time of transfer to rape, lambs not treated with Cu had lower whole-blood haemoglobin (Hb) concentrations and a higher percentage of erythrocytes containing Heinz bodies (6.6 v. 3.7%, P < 0.01) than Cu-treated lambs: the corresponding effects of Se treatment were similar in direction but lower in magnitude (P < 005).
3. After grazing rape for 2 weeks the mean Hb concentration had fallen by 30 g/l while Heinz body count had increased from 5 to 25%. However, counts were negatively correlated with the initial values and were unaffected by the Cu and Se treatments which maintained high plasma Cu concentrations and SOD and GSHPx activities.
4. The results provide the first evidence that Cu deficiency can induce Heinz body formation and the anaemia in grazing Cu-deficient lambs may be partly haemolytic in origin. The concomitant Se deficiency added marginally to the problem but neither the separate nor combined deficiencies increased the susceptibility of lambs to brassica anaemia.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)539-548
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1987


  • Anemia, Hemolytic
  • Animals
  • Brassica
  • Copper
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Heinz Bodies
  • Selenium
  • Sheep
  • Sheep Diseases
  • Superoxide Dismutase

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