Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient that is required by all living organisms. However, Cu can also be a potentially toxic metal if excessive dietary supplementation occurs. The current study aimed to investigate the mechanism of Cu toxicity in the cardiomyocytes of large mammal pigs. Here, we used pigs to explore Cu toxicity in the control group (10 mg/kg Cu) and treatment groups (125 mg/kg and 250 mg/kg Cu) for a period of 80 days. Consequently, we identified that large amount intake of Cu led to in oxidative damage, and activation of the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)/heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1)-mediated antioxidant pathway, indicating an imbalanced redox status in the myocardium. Furthermore, Cu exposure activated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress through upregulating levels of glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), glucose-regulated protein 94 (GRP94), X-box binding protein 1 (XBP1), and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP). Additionally, mitochondrial fission and fusion homeostasis was disrupted and the copy number of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was reduced under Cu exposure. Furthermore, Cu exposure could induce apoptosis, evidenced by the increased terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase biotin-d UTP nick end labeling (TUNEL)-positive staining, the upregulated expression levels of Cytoplasm-cytochrome C (Cytc), Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax), and Cleaved-caspase3, and decreased expression level of B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) and Mitochondrial-cytc. In summary, large amount of Cu could trigger Nrf2/HO-1 pathway-mediated oxidative stress, which promotes ER stress and mitochondrial damage pathways, causing apoptosis in cardiomyocytes.Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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