Toxic effects of copper on the jejunum and colon of pigs: mechanisms related to gut barrier dysfunction and inflammation influenced by the gut microbiota†
Copper (Cu) is an essential trace mineral, but its excessive intake can lead to potentially toxic effects on host physiology. The mammalian intestine harbors various microorganisms that are associated with intestinal barrier function and inflammation. In this study, the influences of Cu on barrier function, microbiota, and its metabolites were examined in the jejunum and colon of pigs. Here, we identified that the physical and chemical barrier functions were impaired both in the jejunum and colon, as evidenced by the decreased expression of tight junction proteins (ZO-1, Occludin, Claudin-1, and JAM-1) and mucous secretion-related genes, positive rate of Muc2, and secretion of SIgA and SIgG. Additionally, inflammatory cytokines were overexpressed in the jejunum and colon. Furthermore, Cu might increase the abundances of Mycoplasma, Actinobacillus and unidentified_Enterobacteriaceae in the jejunum, which significantly affected pentose and glucoronate interconversions, histidine metabolism, folate biosynthesis, porphyrin metabolism, and purine metabolism. Meanwhile, the abundances of Lactobacillus and Methanobrevibacter were remarkably decreased and Streptococcus, unidentified_Enterobacteriaceae, and unidentified_Muribaculaceae were significantly increased in the colon, with an evident impact on glycerophospholipid metabolism, retinol metabolism, and steroid hormone biosynthesis. These findings revealed that excess Cu had significant effects on the microbiota and metabolites in the jejunum and colon, which were involved in intestinal barrier dysfunction and inflammation.