Recent findings published in Toxicon, the official journal of the International Society on Toxinology, shed light on the chronic inflammatory injury caused by the invasive plant Ageratina adenophora on goat livers. This groundbreaking study offers intricate details of the plant’s hepatotoxic effects that extend beyond known toxicological profiles, encompassing inflammation-related changes in liver metabolism.

Researchers from the Key Laboratory of Animal Disease and Human Health of Sichuan Province at Sichuan Agricultural University, led by Dr. Hu Yanchun, embarked on a novel exploration into the insidious health threats posed by Ageratina adenophora, an invasive species proven to be harmful to animal health. The study, detailed in the article, “Study on the chronic inflammatory injury caused by Ageratina adenophora on goat liver using metabolomics,” was published on January 11, 2024, under the DOI: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2024.107610.

Background on Ageratina Adenophora

Ageratina adenophora, commonly known as crofton weed or sticky snakeroot, is an herbaceous plant that has spread aggressively across several continents, inflicting ecological damage and threats to livestock. Previous studies have pinpointed its hepatotoxic properties, but the depth of its inflammatory impact remained inadequately understood until now.

Methodology of the Study

For 90 days, goats were fed a diet containing 40% Ageratina adenophora powder. This experimental design simulated the possible scenarios in environments heavily invaded by the weed, reflecting realistic exposure levels for the animals. Upon completion of the feeding regimen, the team collected liver tissues from both test and control groups for comprehensive analysis.

Histopathological assessment was performed using H & E staining, while liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) revealed the underlying metabolomic alterations. The inclusion of detailed metabolic pathways in the study enabled a more profound understanding of the injury mechanisms at play.

Findings and Insights

The results were telling: 153 differentially altered metabolites were identified in the liver tissues of goats fed with Ageratina adenophora, with 71 upregulated and 82 downregulated. Notably, two critical metabolic pathways were affected: neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction and pyrimidine metabolism. The researchers posited that these shifts were closely linked with the onset of inflammation as well as related pathological processes such as oxidative stress and apoptosis – the programmed cell death that holds the key to understanding degenerative diseases.

Elevations in serum liver function indexes – namely, aspartate transaminase (AST) and alanine transaminase (ALT) – further confirmed the injurious effects on hepatic health. Both enzymes are indicative markers when high levels are detected in the blood, usually signifying liver stress or damage.

Implications for Veterinary Medicine and Environmental Health

Histopathological examinations corroborated the biochemical findings, unveiling inflammatory cell infiltration and noticeable cell degeneration within liver tissues. These results, in harmony with the metabolic upheavals observed, present a striking portrait of the harm Ageratina adenophora can inflict on an animal’s liver over time.

This research opens avenues for additional studies focusing on devising strategies to mitigate the risks posed by this invasive plant. Consequently, this could lead to advances in veterinary care designed to protect livestock from the long-term health repercussions of Ageratina adenophora ingestion.

The Significance of Holistic Plant-Toxin Research

While the study focuses on a specific species, it epitomizes the broader need for in-depth research into the health effects of invasive plants on livestock. Comprehensive metabolomic profiling, as employed in this investigation, represents a pivotal tool for revealing the nuanced biological repercussions of exposure to environmental toxins.

Supporting Information and Financial Disclosure

Support for the research came from the Key R&D Program of Sichuan Science and Technology Department and the Fund of Sichuan Province Education Department. Dr. Hu Yanchun and other team members declared that there were no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could appear to have an impact on the work reported.


Braving new frontiers in livestock health, the study emerges as a crucial link in understanding how Ageratina adenophora leads to chronic liver inflammation and its broader impact on animal metabolism. As the awareness of the risks posed by invasive species grows, this research provides a scientific basis for mitigating these threats and safeguarding livestock out in the field.


1. Chenyang, S., Ruya, H., Samuel Kumi, O., Yousif, M., Shu, W., Jianchen, W., Xiaoxuan, W., & Yanchun, H. (2024). Study on the chronic inflammatory injury caused by Ageratina adenophora on goat liver using metabolomics. Toxicon, 239, 107610.

2. Toxicon. (2024). Official Journal of the International Society on Toxinology. Elsevier Ltd.

3. Pyrimidine Metabolism in Animals: Eukaryotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from “Biochemistry Pathways” online reference.

4. Elanchezhian, R., Panchanadham, S., & Chatterjee, M. L. (2012). Apoptotic pathways and their role in toxicity. Toxicology International, 19(3), 215–228.

5. Zajicek, A. M., Valdes, E. V., & Elsasser, T. H. (2018). Livestock and environmental toxicology: A review of the scientific literature. Veterinary Sciences, 5(1), 20.


1. Ageratina adenophora liver injury
2. Chronic liver inflammation goats
3. Liver metabolomics veterinary study
4. Invasive species livestock health
5. Hepatotoxic plants metabolomics research