Elemental imbalance elicited by arsenic and copper exposures leads to oxidative stress and immunotoxicity in chicken gizzard, activating the protective effects of heat shock proteins

  • Menghao Guo
  • Hongjing Zhao
  • Yu Wang
  • Juanjuan Liu
  • Dongxue Fei
  • Xin Yang
  • Mengyao Mu
  • Mingwei XingEmail author
Research Article


Arsenic (As) and copper (Cu) are ubiquitous pollutants that pose a threat to the environment. Our aim is to study the underlying mechanisms by which As and Cu act on the chicken gizzard. In order to detect ionic disorders in chicken gizzard under chronic treatment with As3+ and/or Cu2+ and whether they can induce oxidative damage as well as immune disorders, 30 mg/kg arsenic trioxide (As2O3) and/or 300 mg/kg copper sulfate (CuSO4) were added to the chicken’s basal diet. After 12 weeks of exposure, trace elements were found to have significant interference, accompanied by damage to the antioxidant system. In addition, As3+ and/or Cu2+ activated the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), inducing severe inflammation. At the same time, damaged structural integrity which might be caused by inflammation was discovered after hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. Moreover, symbolic Th1/Th2 (Th, helper T cell) drift was also observed in treatment groups, meaning that immune function is left to be affected, and the increment in heat shock proteins may be a self-protective mechanism of gizzard. Interestingly, we found that the damage to the gizzard of chicken was aggravated in a time-dependent manner, and the combined exposure was more pathogenic than the single exposure, of which the mechanism needs further exploration. Together, this work helps move us toward a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that mediate the interactions between Cu excess and As3+ exposures and possible health consequences in susceptible species.


Arsenic Copper Oxidative stress Inflammation Immune disorders Heat shock proteins 


Funding information

This research was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFD0501702); the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31672619) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. 2572016EAJ5).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6702_MOESM1_ESM.doc (72 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 72 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Menghao Guo
    • 1
  • Hongjing Zhao
    • 1
  • Yu Wang
    • 1
  • Juanjuan Liu
    • 1
  • Dongxue Fei
    • 1
  • Xin Yang
    • 1
  • Mengyao Mu
    • 1
  • Mingwei Xing
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Wildlife and Protected AreaNortheast Forestry UniversityHarbinPeople’s Republic of China

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