Previously, we reported the effects of fescue toxicosis on developing Angus-cross steer growth, carcass, hepatic mRNA, and protein expression profiles of selected serum proteins, and blood clinical and chemical profiles, after summer-long grazing (85 days) of high endophyte (HE)- vs. low endophyte (LE)-infected fescue pastures. We now report the temporal development of acute, intermediate, and chronic responses of biochemical and clinical blood analytes determined at specified time intervals (period 1, day 0–36; period 2, day 37–58; and period 3, day 59–85). Throughout the trial, the alkaloid concentrations of the HE forage was consistently 19–25 times greater (P ≤ 0.002) than the concentration in the LE forage, and HE vs. LE steers had continuously lower (P ≤ 0.049) serum prolactin (85%), cholesterol (27%), and albumin (5%), but greater red blood cells (7%). The HE steers had decreased (P = 0.003) ADG only during period 1 (−0.05 vs. 0.4 kg/day). For period 1, HE steers had reduced (P ≤ 0.090) numbers of eosinophils (55%) and lymphocytes (18%), serum triglyceride (27%), and an albumin/globulin ratio (9%), but an increased bilirubin concentration (20%). During period 2, serum LDH activities were 18% lower (P = 0.022) for HE vs. LE steers. During period 3, serum levels of ALP (32%), ALT (16%), AST (15%), creatine kinase (35%), glucose (10%), and LDH (23%) were lower (P ≤ 0.040) for HE steers. Correlation analysis of serum prolactin and other blood analytes revealed that triglycerides (P = 0.042) and creatinine (P = 0.021) were moderately correlated (r ≤ 0.433) with HE serum prolactin. In conclusion, three HE-induced blood analyte response patterns were identified: continually altered, initially altered, and subsequently “recovered,” or altered only after long-term exposure. Blood analytes affected by length of grazing HE vs. LE forages were either not or poorly correlated with serum prolactin. These data reveal important, temporal, data about how young cattle respond to the challenge of consuming HE pasture.

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Published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, v. 2, article 77, p. 1-13.

© 2015 Jackson, Lindemann, Boling and Matthews.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Special Cooperative Agreement (JM) and Multistate project No. 1000591.

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This is publication No. 15-07-119 of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with approval of the Director.