Transcriptome analysis reveals the molecular mechanism of hepatic metabolism disorder caused by chromium poisoning in chickens

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018 Jun;25(16):15411-15421. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-1653-7. Epub 2018 Mar 21.


Chromium (Cr) is one of the most important environmental pollutants which are released into the environment due to their wide usage in numerous industries. The excess of Cr (VI) can induce hepatotoxicity, while the molecular mechanism that is involved in Cr (VI)-induced hepatotoxicity is unclear. We demonstrated the induction of chromium poisoning model in chickens to identify the differentially expressed genes (DEGs), and their functions were analyzed under different physiological and pathological conditions. Histopathological examination and transcriptome data for chromium-poisoned livers and control livers were annotated with Illumina® HiSeq 2000. The histopathological examination in chromium poisoning groups showed diapedesis, hemolysis, degeneration, nucleus pycnosis, and central phlebectasia in the liver. A total of 334 genes were upregulated and 509 genes were downregulated. The most strongly upregulated genes were HKDC1, DDX4, ACACA, FDFT1, CYYR1, PPP1R3C, and SLC16A14, while the most downregulated genes were MYBPC3, CCKAR, PCK1, and CPT1A. A Gene Ontology (GO) term with the highest enrichment of DEGs is small molecule metabolic process. In cell component domain, the term with the highest enrichment is extracellular matrix. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways showed that glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism, and protein metabolism were the most important metabolic pathways in the liver. The current study first time provides important clues and evidence for identifying the differentially expressed genes in livers due to Cr (VI)-induced liver injury in chickens.

Keywords: Chromium; Hepatic metabolism; Hepatotoxicity; Liver; Transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Avian Proteins / metabolism
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / genetics*
  • Chromium / poisoning*
  • Environmental Pollutants / poisoning*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / veterinary
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / drug effects*
  • Transcriptome / drug effects*


  • Avian Proteins
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Chromium
  • Glucose