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BMC Genomics. 2008 Sep 17;9:421. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-9-421.

Gene expression profiling in hepatic tissue of newly weaned pigs fed pharmacological zinc and phytase supplemented diets.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Universidad Central del Caribe, Bayamón, PR. michelle.martinez@uccaribe.edu



Zinc (Zn) is an essential trace element. However, Zn bioavailability from commonly consumed plants may be reduced due to phytic acid. Zn supplementation has been used to treat diarrheal disease in children, and in the U.S. swine industry at pharmacological levels to promote growth and fecal consistency, but underlying mechanisms explaining these beneficial effects remain unknown. Moreover, adding supplemental phytase improves Zn bioavailability. Thus, we hypothesized that benefits of pharmacological Zn supplementation result from changes in gene expression that could be further affected by supplemental phytase. The goal of this study was to investigate the effects of feeding newly weaned pigs dietary Zn (150, 1,000, or 2,000 mg Zn/kg) as Zn oxide with or without phytase [500 phytase units (FTU)/kg] for 14 d on hepatic gene expression. Liver RNA from pigs fed 150, 1,000, or 2,000 mg Zn/kg, or 1,000 mg Zn/kg with phytase (n = 4 per treatment) was reverse transcribed and examined using the differential display reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction technique. Liver RNA from pigs fed 150 or 2,000 mg Zn/kg (n = 4 per treatment) was also evaluated using a 70-mer oligonucleotide microarray.


Expressed sequence tags for 61 putatively differentially expressed transcripts were cloned and sequenced. In addition, interrogation of a 13,297 element oligonucleotide microarray revealed 650 annotated transcripts (FDR <or= 0.05) affected by pharmacological Zn supplementation. Seven transcripts exhibiting differential expression in pigs fed pharmacological Zn with sequence similarities to genes encoding GLO1, PRDX4, ACY1, ORM1, CPB2, GSTM4, and HSP70.2 were selected for confirmation. Relative hepatic GLO1 (P < 0.0007), PRDX4 (P < 0.009) and ACY1 (P < 0.01) mRNA abundances were confirmed to be greater in pigs fed 1,000 (n = 8) and 2,000 (n = 8) mg Zn/kg than in pigs fed 150 (n = 7) mg Zn/kg. Relative hepatic HSP70.2 (P < 0.002) mRNA abundance was confirmed to be lower in pigs fed 2,000 mg Zn/kg than in pigs fed 150 or 1,000 mg Zn/kg.


Results suggest that feeding pharmacological Zn (1,000 or 2,000 mg Zn/kg) affects genes involved in reducing oxidative stress and in amino acid metabolism, which are essential for cell detoxification and proper cell function.

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