Toxicity testing of saponin-containing Yucca schidigera Roetzl. juice in relation to hepato- and nephrotoxicity of Narthecium ossifragum (L.) Huds.
ABSTRACT Yucca schidigera juice in doses of 1.5 g (63 mg sapogenin) and 3.0 g (126 mg sapogenin) per kg live weight was administered intraruminally to 30 lambs for 21 days to investigate whether the saponins in Y. schidigera were toxic to lambs and whether they could cause hepatogenous photosensitisation. Twelve lambs died or had to be euthanised. The main pathological findings in the diseased lambs were acute tubular necrosis in the kidneys, dehydration and watery content in the gastrointestinal tract. Fifteen lambs were euthanised at the end of the study, and the main pathological findings in dosed animals were accumulation of homogeneous pale PAS-positive material in the hepatocytes. There was a rise in serum creatinine and urea concentrations in the lambs with renal lesions the day before they died. Major Y. schidigera-related saponins were found in the liver and kidney samples from all lambs that were dosed with Y. schidigera juice. The results of the present study demonstrate that un-hydrolysed saponins can be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. The possible role of saponins in causing nephrotoxicity is discussed.