Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 179, Issue 2, pp 318–326 | Cite as

Effects of Copper on Hemocyte Apoptosis, ROS Production, and Gene Expression in White Shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei

  • Hui Guo
  • Kexu Li
  • Wei Wang
  • Chenggui Wang
  • Yuchun ShenEmail author


Copper, a common chemical contaminant in aquatic environment, is known to be toxic to aquatic life at high concentrations. In the present study, we evaluated the apoptotic cell ratio and ROS production in hemocytes of the white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei exposed to 1 or 5 mg L−1 Cu for 0, 3, 6, 12, 24, and 48 h. The expression changes of antioxidant biomarker genes, i.e., copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu-Zn SOD) and catalase (CAT), apoptosis-related genes, i.e., caspase-3 and inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP), and a specific biomarker gene of heavy metal pollution, i.e., metallothionein (MT), were also determined in hemocytes. Significant increases in ROS production were observed in both treatment groups at each time points. The apoptotic cell ratios were significantly increased at 6–48 h among shrimp exposed to 1 mg L−1 Cu and at each time points in 5 mg L−1 Cu group. These results indicated that Cu would induce oxidative stress and apoptosis in the hemocyte of L. vannamei. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis revealed that the relative expression levels of Cu-Zn SOD, CAT, caspase-3, IAP, and MT were upregulated in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner, suggesting the involvement of these genes in stress response against Cu exposure.


Copper Apoptosis ROS production Gene expression Litopenaeus vannamei 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (31600321), Guangdong Provincial Natural Science Foundation (2015A030310438), Program for Scientific Research Start-Up Funds of Guangdong Ocean University, Special Program for Outstanding Young Teachers of Guangdong Ocean University (HDYQ2015003), and Guangdong Ocean University Student’s Platform for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hui Guo
    • 1
  • Kexu Li
    • 1
  • Wei Wang
    • 1
  • Chenggui Wang
    • 1
  • Yuchun Shen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Marine Ecology and Aquaculture Environment of Zhanjiang, College of FisheriesGuangdong Ocean UniversityZhanjiangPeople’s Republic of China

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