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PLoS One. 2014 Feb 3;9(2):e85323. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085323. eCollection 2014.

Exposing to cadmium stress cause profound toxic effect on microbiota of the mice intestinal tract.

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School of Public Health, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui Province, People's Republic of China.
Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Hefei Univeristy, Hefei, Anhui Province, People's Republic of China.


Cadmium (Cd), one of the heavy metals, is an important environmental pollutant and a potent toxicant to organism. It poses a severe threat to the growth of the organism, and also has been recognized as a human carcinogen. However, the toxicity of cadmium and its influences on microbiota in mammal's intestine are still unclear. In our experiment, the changes of intestinal microbiota in two groups of mice were investigated, which were supplied with 20 and 100 mg kg(-1) cadmium chloride respectively for 3 weeks. The control group was treated with water free from cadmium chloride only. This study demonstrated that Cd accumulated in some tissues of mice after Cd administration and the gut barrier was impaired. Cd exposure also significantly elevated the colonic level of TNF-α. On the other hand, Cd-treatment could slow down the growth of gut microbiota and reduced the abundance of total intestinal bacteria of the mice. Among them, the growth of Bacteroidetes was significantly suppressed while Firmicutes growth was not. The probiotics including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium were notably inhibited. We also observed that the copies of key genes involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates to short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) were lower in Cd-treated groups than control. As a result, the levels of short-chain fatty acids in colonic decreased significantly. In summary, this study provides valuable insight into the effects of Cd intake on mice gut microbiota.

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