Artemisinin is a powerful antimalarial drug, useful in the treatment of many diseases, includ- ing chickens coccidiosis. Its toxic effects have been well studied in humans and experimental animals, but not sufficiently in broiler chickens. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to assess the side effects of artemisinin in chickens, by measuring the serum level of proteins and enzymes (ALT, AST, GGT, ALP, CK), by histopathological examination and by the evaluation of relative weight of organs (liver, kidney, heart). Artemisinin was administered in the standard feed for chickens in three different concentrations: 5, 50 and 500 ppm. Each concentration of artemisinin increased the total serum proteins, gamma-globulins and the serum activity of CK and decreased the serum ALP level. The values of ALT and GGT were higher in the chickens treated with 50 and 500 ppm of artemisinin. Multifocal liver necrosis and inflammatory infiltrate were detected in the chickens that received the 50 and 500 ppm dosage of artemisinin. Minimal tubular necrosis, renal tubular epithelium vacuolation, multifocal interstitial nephritis and mild uric nephrosis were detected in chickens treated with the drug. Artemisinin administration produced no significant changes in the organs relative weight. Artemisinin, at a concentration of 5 mg/kg of feed is well tolerated by broiler chickens, but the concentrations of 50 and 500 mg/ kg feed can produce toxic effects.
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