Nephrotoxicosis in Iberian piglets subsequent to exposure to melamine and derivatives in Spain between 2003 and 2006

Jorge González, Birgit Puschner, Valentín Pérez, María C. Ferreras, Laetitia Delgado, María Muñoz, Claudia Pérez, Luis E. Reyes, Javier Velasco, Víctor Fernández, Juan F. García-Marín

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35 Scopus citations


Between November 2003 and September 2006, 300 to 400 45-60-day-old Iberian piglets developed anorexia, polydipsia, and lethargy. Piglets were from 5 different farms in the western part of Spain. Morbidity was between 40% and 60%, and mortality ranged from 20% to 40% of the total population of postweaning piglets. In the 9 piglets in which postmortem examinations were conducted, kidneys were enlarged with yellow foci in the cortex and medulla. Microscopically, these foci were accumulations of crystals within the lumina of dilated distal tubules and collecting ducts, causing flattening of the renal tubular epithelial cells. The crystals displayed a multicolored birefringence under cross-polarized light. The multinucleated giant cells surrounding the crystals, interstitial fibrosis, and nonsuppurative infiltrates indicated a chronic inflammatory response. Toxicologic analysis of fixed kidney tissues from 4 piglets demonstrated the presence of melamine, ammeline, ammelide, and cyanuric acid. Ammelide concentrations were highest, ranging from 39,000 to 92,000 mg/kg, followed by ammeline (20,000-34,000 mg/kg), melamine (9,200-29,000 mg/kg), and cyanuric acid (2,200-9,100 mg/kg). The clinical, histologic, and toxicologic findings in affected piglets were similar to those reported in dogs and cats that died of melamine and melamine analogue-associated renal failure in 2004 and 2007. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first documented report of poisoning due to melamine and its analogues in pigs and demonstrates that contamination of pig feed occurred as early as 2003.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-563
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009


  • Ammelide
  • Ammeline
  • Cyanuric acid
  • Iberian pigs
  • Kidney
  • Melamine
  • Nephropathy
  • Porcine
  • Toxicosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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