Evaluating the toxicity of escalating dose of oral picolinic acid in Sprague-Dawley rats

Ebrahim Bani Hassan, Nancy Doyle, Jean Guy Bienvenu, Andrew Stent, Gilles J. Guillemin, Gustavo Duque*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Picolinic acid (PIC) is a byproduct of tryptophan catabolism through the kynurenine pathway, with anabolic effects on bone in vivo and in vitro. Hence, PIC has been nominated as a possible candidate to treat and/or prevent osteoporosis. However, the effective dose and toxicity of PIC are not known yet. To test the effect of escalating and very high doses of oral PIC, male Sprague-Dawley rats were gavaged PIC: Group 1 (n = 3) received incremental doses of 125, 250 and 500 mg/kg/day PIC on days 1, 3 and 5. Group 2 (n = 3) received 500 mg/kg BID (8 h apart; i.e. 1000 mg/kg/day) PIC on Day 1. Group 3 (n = 3) received 125 mg/kg/day PIC for seven consecutive days. Group 4 (n = 3) received 250 mg/kg/day PIC for seven consecutive days. Groups 1, 3 and 4 rats were euthanized on Day 8. Group 5 (n = 6) received 500 mg/kg/day PIC for two consecutive days and then once a week dose (Days 9, 16 and 23) of 500 mg/kg/dose PIC, until euthanasia (Day 30). Blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were sampled at euthanasia, and tissues showing abnormalities at necropsy underwent histopathology evaluation. All rats displayed some degree of mild hypercalcemia and hyperkalemia. Rats receiving high doses (500 or 1000 mg/kg/day) of PIC died or were euthanized on humane grounds within the first week after showing clinical neurological signs, with animals later revealed to have brain necrosis and hemorrhage at histopathology. Rats receiving lower doses (125 or 250 mg/kg/day) of PIC completed treatment course without apparent clinical adverse events. In summary, very high doses of PIC (≥500 mg/kg/day) were vascular-neurotoxic. Possible future experiments must consider significantly lower doses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152960
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Bone anabolic
  • Dose
  • Kynurenine
  • Osteoporosis
  • Picolinic acid
  • Toxicity


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