Neuropathological lesions in the brains of goats in North-Western Nigeria: possible impact of artisanal mining

  • Afusat J. Jubril
  • Adedunsola A. Obasa
  • Shehu A. Mohammed
  • James O. OlopadeEmail author
  • Victor O. Taiwo
Research Article


Indiscriminate small-scale artisanal gold mining activities were reported to have caused anthropogenic heavy metal environmental pollution in Zamfara State, north-western Nigeria. There is little or no information on the neurotoxic effects and related neuropathological lesions due to environmental pollution in the animal population. Therefore, this work investigated the concentration of heavy metal and associated lesions in the brain of goats around an artisanal mining site in Zamfara. Brain samples were collected from 40 goats at slaughter slabs in Bagega (Zamfara State) while 15 goats with the same demography but without a history of environmental exposure at the time of this study served as controls. The concentration of lead and cadmium in brain tissue and histopathologic changes were assessed using atomic absorption spectrophotometry, histology and immunohistochemistry. The metal concentrations were significantly higher in exposed goats than in the unexposed animals. Cresyl violet staining and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunohistochemistry indicated chromatolysis and increased astrocytic activity respectively in the exposed goats. This study is of epidemiological importance as it shows a generalised increase of the metal concentrations in the brain of goats exposed to artisanal mining in Zamfara, north-western Nigeria. This could have health effects on the animals associated with nervous co-ordination, growth and development and as a good sentinel for pathogenesis of the heavy metal exposure.


Brain pathology Goats Lead Cadmium Mining 



We wish to acknowledge the assistance of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural resources of Zamfara State and the Anka Emirate Council for the logistics support for sample collection.

Funding information

This study received funding from the Centre of Control and Prevention of Zoonosis of the University of Ibadan and the International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Veterinary PathologyUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary AnatomyUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria
  3. 3.Department of EnvironmentState Ministry of EnvironmentGusauNigeria

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