Molybdenum deficiency in animals

A deficiency of molybdenum is most likely to occur on acid, freely drained soils rich in iron oxides. The plants with levels of molybdenum toxic for livestock most often grow on humous soils and those with impeded drainage. It was the knowledge of the metabolic interrelationships of molybdenum, copper, and sulfur that emphasized its biological importance. A number of reviews have addressed aspects of this subject [Mills and Davis, 1987; Clarke and Clarke, 1975; Bremner, 1979; National Research Council 9, 1980; Spiro, 1985; Coughlin, 1980; Abumrad, 1984; Moura and Xavier, 1978; Kaul et al., 1985; Allen and Gawthorne, 1986; Rajagopalan, 1987].

Mills, C. F. and Davis, G. K., in: Trace elements in Human and Animal Nutrition, Metrz, W., (ed.), 5th Ed., 1987, 429. Academic Press, New York.
Clarke, E. G. C. and Clarke M. L., Molybdenum in: Veterinary Toxicology, 1975, 86. Wilkins & Wilkins, Baltimore, Maryland.
Bremner, I., Toxicity of Cadmium, Zinc and Molybdenum and Their Effects on Copper Metabolism. Proc. Nutr. Soc., 1979, 38, 235.
National Research Council, Molybdenum, in: Mineral Tolerance of Domestic Animals,1980, 9, 328. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
Spiro, T. G. (ed.), Molybdenum Enzymes , 1985, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Coughlin, M. P., Molybdenum and Molybdenum Containing Enzymes, 1980, Pergamon Press, Oxford.
Abumrad, N. N., Bull. N.Y. Acad. Med., 1984, 60, 163.
Moura, J. J. G. and Xavier, A. V., in: Williams, R. J. P. and DeSilva, J. J. R. F. (eds.), Trends in Bioinorganic Chemistry, 1978, 79. Academic Press, New York.
Kaul, Bh. B., Enemark, J. H., Merbs, S. L. and Spence, J. T., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1985, 107, 2885.
Allen, J. D. and Gawthorne, J. M., J. Inorg. Biochem., 1986, 27, 95.
Rajagopalan, K. R., Molybdenum - An Essential Trace Element. Nutr. Rev., 1987, 45, 321.

It is possible to produce a deficiency of molybdenum in rats by the inclusion of 45 or 94 mg of tungsten, as tungstate, per kilogram of diet [National Research Council 9, 1980]. The consumption of low molybdenum forage has been associated with xanthine calculi in sheep [Askew, 1958]. Clinical symptoms or irritability leading to coma, tachycardia, tachypnea and night blindness in a human patient receiving total parental nutrition were completely eliminated by supplementation with 300 microg of ammonium molybdate per day providing evidence for an essential role of molybdenum in human nutrition [Abumrad et al., 1981]. Diets low in molybdenum fed to goats [ Anke et al., 1978] and to chicks [Payne, 1978] resulted in detrimental effects associated with reproduction. Goats had poor conception rates and poor fetal survival. Chicks suffered high embryonic mortality and abnormal growth and development.

National Research Council 9, 1980
Askew, H. O., N.Z. J. Agric. Res., 1958, 1, 447.
Abumrad, N. N., Schneider, A. J., Steel, D. and Rogers, L. S., Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 1981, 34, 2551.
Anke, M., Grün, M., Partschefeld, M. and Groppel, B., in: Trace Element Metabolism in Man and Animals, Kirchgessner, M. (ed.), 1978, 3, 203. Institut für Ernährungsphysiologie, Technische Universität München, Freising-Weihenstephan.
Payne, C. G. and Bains, B. S., Vet. Rec., 1975, 97, 436.

Signs of molybdenum deficiency due to lower molybdenum intakes in food were reported from New Zealand where lambs raised in areas with lower molybdenum concentrations in the soil showed symptoms of renal lithiasis. The calculi detected in these animals were made up of xanthine. This pathologic condition which can be considerably aggravated by concurrent deficiency of proteins is called xanthine disease.

In Australia and the USA a syndrome was described in chicks which was characterised by loss of feathers, impaired ossification of long bones and by changes in the cartilage of joints resulting in complete immobilization. The link with molybdenum deficiency was clearly demonstrated by a rapid disappearence of these symptoms after the addition of 0.5 - 2.5 mg/kg of molybdenum in subsequent feed [Bains and McKenzie, 1975; Payne and Bains, 1975].

Bains, B. S. and McKenzie, M. A., Aust. Vet. J., 1975, 51, 364.
Payne, C. G., in: Trace Element Metabolism in Man and Animals, Kirchgessner, M. (ed.), 1978, 3, 1515. Institut für Ernährungsphysiologie, Technische Universität München, Freising-Weihenstephan.