Liver mitochondrial dysfunction and electron transport chain defect induced by high dietary copper in broilers

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Copper is an important trace mineral in the diet of poultry due to its biological activity. However, limited information is available concerning the effects of high copper on mitochondrial dysfunction. In this study, 72 broilers were used to investigate the effects of high dietary copper on liver mitochondrial dysfunction and electron transport chain defect. Birds were fed with different concentrations [11, 110, 220, and 330 mg of copper/kg dry matter (DM)] of copper from tribasic copper chloride (TBCC). The experiment lasted for 60 d. Liver tissues on d 60 were subjected to histopathological observation. Additionally, liver mitochondrial function was recorded on d 12, 36, and 60. Moreover, a site-specific defect in the electron transport chain in liver mitochondria was also identified by using various chemical inhibitors of mitochondrial respiration. The results showed different degrees of degeneration, mitochondrial swelling, and high-density electrons in hepatocytes. In addition, the respiratory control ratio (RCR) and oxidative phosphorylation rate (OPR) in liver mitochondria increased at first and then decreased in high-dose groups. Moreover, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) generation velocity in treated groups was higher than that in control group, which were magnified by inhibiting electron transport at Complex IV. The results indicated that high dietary copper could decline liver mitochondrial function in broilers. The presence of a site-specific defect at Complex IV in liver mitochondria may be responsible for liver mitochondrial dysfunction caused by high dietary copper.

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