Sodium distribution in the bovine brain

Megan C. Romano, Grace E. Higgs, Michelle N. Helm, Darko Stefanovski, Cynthia L. Gaskill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fatal sodium intoxication can occur in many species, including cattle, and postmortem confirmation often includes brain sodium concentration determination. Published information regarding brain sodium distribution in cattle was not found in a literature review. Our study was designed to determine whether sodium is uniformly distributed throughout the bovine brain. Eight whole bovine brains were collected from adult cattle with no neurologic signs or history suggestive of sodium intoxication, and with a non-neurologic cause of death diagnosed on gross examination. Brains were divided mid-sagittally. One hemisphere of each brain was homogenized. Subsamples were obtained from the remaining hemisphere (rostral, caudal, and dorsal cerebral cortices; brainstem, thalamus, and cerebellum). Sodium concentrations of regions and homogenates were measured by inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry. Data were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA with a pairwise post-test to compare mean sodium concentration of each region to mean homogenate sodium concentration. Brain sodium was not uniformly distributed; sodium concentrations in different regions of the same brain varied somewhat unpredictably. Homogenization of an entire brain hemisphere appears to be the ideal method of sample preparation to ensure accurate brain sodium concentration measurement in adult cattle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-387
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Bovine
  • brain
  • cattle
  • intoxication
  • poisoning
  • salt
  • sodium
  • toxicosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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