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Biometals. 2013 Apr;26(2):355-65. doi: 10.1007/s10534-013-9612-8. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Effect of oxygen free radicals and nitric oxide on apoptosis of immune organ induced by selenium deficiency in chickens.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Medicine, Northeast Agricultural University, 59 Mucai street, Harbin, 150030, People's Republic of China.

Erratum in

  • Biometals. 2013 Apr;26(2):367. Zhang, Yu-hong [corrected to Gao, Yu-hong].


Selenium is an essential element with antioxidant roles in immune regulation, but there is little understanding of how Se acts in apoptosis in the immune organs of birds. The aim of study was to evaluate the influence of Se deficiency on oxygen free radicals, NO and apoptosis in immune organ of chickens. 160 1-day-old chickens were randomly assigned to two groups of 80 each and were fed on a low-Se diet (0.032 mg/kg Se) or a control diet (0.282 mg/kg Se), respectively. OFR production in blood was determined on days 30, 45, 60 and 75, respectively. The iNOS-NO system activity in immune organ (thymus, spleen, bursa of fabricius) was identified by NO content and NOS activity assay on days 30, 45, 60 and 75, respectively. Apoptosis was measured by DNA ladder analysis, ultrastructural observations, TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labeling TUNEL assay and flow cytometric analysis of apoptotic DNA. The transcription of factor-associated suicide, caspase-3 mRNA was tested by fluorescence quantitative PCR. The results showed that OFR production, NO and inducible NO synthases (iNOS) activity in the low-Se group were significantly increased (p < 0.05) than in the control group. In addition, apoptosis was observed in chicken immune organ in the low-Se group. The degree and the number of apoptotic cells rose in a time-dependent manner. The expression of Fas and caspase-3 mRNA increased (p < 0.05) than in the control group. It indicated that the oxidative stress and NO played a causative role in the apoptosis of immune tissues induced by selenium deficiency.

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