Copper-Mediated Mitochondrial Fission/Fusion Is Associated with Intrinsic Apoptosis and Autophagy in the Testis Tissues of Chicken

  • Yizhi Shao
  • Hongjing Zhao
  • Yu Wang
  • Juanjuan Liu
  • Hui Zong
  • Mingwei XingEmail author


The aim of this study is to investigate whether copper (Cu) could induce testicular poisoning and influence the mitochondrial dynamics, apoptosis, and autophagy in chickens. For this purpose, thirty-six 1-day-old male Hy-line chickens were divided into control group (C group) and test group (Cu group). The chickens were exposed to 0 (C group) or 300 mg/kg (Cu group) of copper sulfate (CuSO4) for 30, 60, and 90 days. CuSO4 was added into the basal diet to make supplements. Testis tissues were subjected to observation of ultrastructure and detection of testis-related indexes. The results indicated that in the test group, the levels of the pro-apoptotic genes were up-regulated and the levels of the anti-apoptotic genes were down-regulated; the levels of mitochondrial fission-related genes markedly increased, and the levels of mitochondrial fusion-related genes were highly decreased; autophagy-related gene (autophagy-associated gene 4B (ATG4B), dynein, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 beta (LC3-II), ATG5, and beclin-1) levels were increased, while mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and LC3-I levels were declined. The results of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) demonstrated that Cu induced mitochondrial fragmentation, which induced autophagy and apoptosis in chicken testes. In conclusion, CuSO4 exposure can influence the mitochondrial dynamics balance and lead to mitochondria-initiated intrinsic pathway of apoptosis and autophagy, which triggers the testicular poisoning in chickens. What is more, there is a correlation among mitochondrial dynamics, apoptosis, and autophagy.


Copper Chicken Testicular toxicity Apoptosis Autophagy Mitochondrial dynamics 


Funding Information

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

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The Animal Care, Use and Ethics Committee of Northeast Forestry University (approval no. UT-31; 20 June 2014) is responsible for review and approval of this animal experiment.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yizhi Shao
    • 1
  • Hongjing Zhao
    • 1
  • Yu Wang
    • 1
  • Juanjuan Liu
    • 1
  • Hui Zong
    • 2
  • Mingwei Xing
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Wildlife ResourcesNortheast Forestry UniversityHarbinChina
  2. 2.Guangdong Vocational College of Science and TradeGuangzhouChina

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