Porphyrin Accumulation and Biliary Lithiasis Causing Diffusely Black Livers in Broiler Chickens

Veronica Nguyen, Asli Mete, Anibal Armien, Ana P. Da Silva, Patrick Montine, Charles Corsiglia, V. M.Sadagopa Ramanujam, Karl E. Anderson, Ruediger Hauck, Rodrigo A. Gallardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


SUMMARY. Two 7-wk-old broiler chickens presented with uniformly black livers upon postslaughter examination, while all other organs as well as their carcasses were grossly normal. No clinical signs were reported by the field veterinarian prior to slaughter. Other broiler chickens within the same flock were unaffected. Microscopically, the liver exhibited variably sized, globoid concrements that were dark brown to green-brown and birefringent under polarized light. Ultrastructurally, concrements consisted of radially arranged electron-dense crystal spicules. Concrements were located in hepatocytes, within ecstatic bile canaliculi, or surrounded by small clusters of macrophages. Liquid chromatography assay determined the presence of protoporphyrin IX in the affected liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAvian diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Black liver
  • Broiler chickens
  • Electron microscopy
  • Pigment deposition
  • Porphyrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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