Research Papers: Immunology:

Vanadium toxicity in the thymic development

Wei Cui, Hongrui Guo and Hengmin Cui _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:28661-28677. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5798

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Wei Cui1,*, Hongrui Guo1,* and Hengmin Cui1,2

1 Key Laboratory of Animal Diseases and Environmental Hazards of Sichuan Province, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya’an, China

2 College of Veterinary Medicine, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya’an, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Hengmin Cui, email:

Keywords: vanadium, relative weight, cell cycle, apoptosis, protein expression, Immunology and Microbiology section, Immunity, Immune response

Received: July 15, 2015 Accepted: August 26, 2015 Published: September 22, 2015


The purpose of this study was to define the toxic effects of vanadium on thymic development in broilers fed on diets supplemented with 0, 5, 15, 30, 45 and 60 mg/kg of vanadium for 42 days. We examined the changes of relative weight, cell cycle phase, apoptotic cells, and protein expression of Bcl-2, Bax, and caspase-3 in the thymus by the methods of flow cytometry, TUNEL (terminal-deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated nick end labeling) and immunohistochemistry. The results showed that dietary high vanadium (30mg/kg, 45mg/kg and 60mg/kg) caused the toxic effects on thymic development, which was characterized by decreasing relative weight, increasing G0/G1 phase (a prolonged nondividing state), reducing S phase (DNA replication) and proliferating index (PI), and increasing percentages of apoptotic thymocytes. Concurrently, the protein expression levels of Bax and caspase-3 were increased, and protein expression levels of Bcl-2 were decreased. The thymic development suppression caused by dietary high vanadium further leads to inhibitive effects on T lymphocyte maturity and activity, and cellular immune function. The above-mentioned results provide new evidences for further understanding the vanadium immunotoxicity. In contrast, dietary 5 mg/kg vanadium promoted the thymic development by increasing relative weight, decreasing G0/G1 phase, increasing S phase and PI, and reducing percentages of apoptotic thymocytes when compared to the control group and high vanadium groups.

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