Selenium Deficiency in Chickens Induces Intestinal Mucosal Injury by Affecting the Mucosa Morphology, SIgA Secretion, and GSH-Px Activity

  • Xianjing He
  • Yucai Lin
  • Shuai Lian
  • Dongbo Sun
  • Donghua Guo
  • Jianfa WangEmail author
  • Rui WuEmail author


The small intestine is one of the target organs of dietary selenium (Se) deficiency. Our objective was to investigate the effects of Se deficiency on small intestinal mucosa morphology and function in chickens. In the present study, 1-day (d)-old chickens were fed either a commercial diet with 0.15 mg/kg Se (control group) or a Se-deficient diet with 0.016 mg/kg Se (Se-group). The average daily weight gain, Se content in the blood, secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) secretion, and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity in the small intestine in chickens were examined after 10, 20, 30, and 40 days of feeding. We also observed the morphology of the small intestine and recorded the number of intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs). The average daily weight gain decreased; the level of Se in the blood decreased significantly; and SIgA secretion and GSH-Px activity in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum decreased to different degrees. Histological analysis showed that the villus length, crypt depth, mucosal thickness, and number of IELs in the small intestine decreased to different extents in different periods. In the Se-group, longer feeding times were associated with more severe injury to physiological structure and function in the intestinal mucosa in chickens. In conclusion, Se deficiency induced injury of the mucosal immune barrier and physical barrier of the small intestine, and decreased the growth performance and antioxidant capacity in chickens.


Selenium deficiency Chicken Small intestine Mucosal immunity 


Funding Information

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant 31272624) and Heilongjiang Bayi Agricultural University Support Program for San Heng San Zong (ZRCQC201903).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures used in this study were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Heilongjiang Bayi Agricultural University.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Animal Science and Veterinary MedicineHeilongjiang Bayi Agricultural UniversityDaqingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry EngineeringHeilongjiang PolytechnicHarbinPeople’s Republic of China

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