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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(1), 77;

Pathological Impairment, Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis of Thymus and Bursa of Fabricius Induced by Aflatoxin-Contaminated Corn in Broilers

Institute of Animal Nutrition, Key Laboratory for Animal Disease-Resistance Nutrition of China Ministry of Education, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya’an 625014, Sichuan, China
College of Life Science, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637009, Sichuan, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: William A. Toscano
Received: 22 November 2016 / Revised: 30 December 2016 / Accepted: 10 January 2017 / Published: 13 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [15044 KB, uploaded 13 January 2017]   |  


This study aimed to evaluate the comparative effects of aflatoxin-contaminated corn on the thymus and bursa of Fabricius (BF) in chickens by detecting histopathological lesions, cell cycle phase distribution and apoptosis. A total of 900 COBB500 male broilers were randomly allocated into five groups. The experiment lasted for six weeks and the five dietary treatments consisted of uncontaminated corn (control), 25% contaminated corn, 50% contaminated corn, 75% contaminated corn and 100% contaminated corn groups. The gross changes showed the decreased size of the thymus and BF, as well as the pale color of the BF in the broilers after aflatoxin contaminated diet exposure. There were more nuclear debris in the thymus and BF of birds in the 50%, 75%, and 100% contaminated corn groups, but the pathological impairments of the BF were more obvious than those of the thymus, which showed as more obvious lymphocyte depletion and the proliferation of reticulocytes and fibroblasts. At 21 days of age, the percentage of thymocytes and BF cells in the G2M phase was increased in a dose-dependent manner in the four AFB-contaminated corn groups. However, at 42 days of age, dietary AFB1 induced cell cycle perturbation at the G0G1 phase in thymocytes, but at the G2M phase in BF cells. The increased percentage of apoptotic cells in the thymus and BF were similarly observed in the AFB groups. According to these results, the severity of histopathological lesions may be correlated with the different sensitivity of the two central immune organs when exposed to AFB; different arrested cell cycle phases suggest that different mechanisms may be involved in the lesions of the thymus and BF, which need to be further researched. View Full-Text
Keywords: aflatoxin; comparative lesion; thymus; bursa of Fabricius aflatoxin; comparative lesion; thymus; bursa of Fabricius

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Peng, X.; Bai, S.; Ding, X.; Zhang, K. Pathological Impairment, Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis of Thymus and Bursa of Fabricius Induced by Aflatoxin-Contaminated Corn in Broilers. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 77.

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