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Keywords:

  • broilers;
  • cytokine;
  • intestinal mucosal immunity;
  • mRNA expression;
  • nickel chloride

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to examine the toxicological effects of nickel chloride (NiCl2; 300, 600, and 900 mg kg−1 diet) on the cytokine mRNA expression and protein levels in the intestinal mucosa and cecal tonsil, and on the ileac and cecal tonsil T cells in broilers by the methods of qRT-PCR, flow cytometry and ELISA for 42 days. Results showed that the IL-2, IL-6, IL-10, IL-17, IFN-γ, and TNF-α (LITAF) cytokine mRNA expression and protein levels were lower (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01) and the percentages of T-cell subsets were also lower in the 300, 600, and 900 mg kg−1 groups than in the control group. It was concluded that dietary NiCl2 in excess of 300 mg kg−1 could reduce cytokine mRNA expression and protein levels in the intestinal mucosa and cecal tonsil, and the percentages of ileac and cecal tonsil T-cell subsets. Decreasing in cytokine mRNA expression and protein levels of intestinal mucosa and cecal tonsil induced by NiCl2 was closely related to the reduction of T-cell population. Thus, the abnormal expression of these cytokines impacts the intestinal mucosal immune function by the pathways of reducing of lymphocyte population and activation. Also, this study first proved that NiCl2 at higher levels has the toxicological effects on intestinal mucosal immunity. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol, 2014.