Glyphosate exposure induces inflammatory responses in the small intestine and alters gut microbial composition in rats

Environ Pollut. 2020 Jun;261:114129. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114129. Epub 2020 Feb 3.


Glyphosate is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. This study aimed to investigate the adverse effects of glyphosate on the small intestine and gut microbiota in rats. The rats were gavaged with 0, 5, 50, and 500 mg/kg of body weight glyphosate for 35 continuous days. The different segments of the small intestine were sampled to measure indicators of oxidative stress, ion concentrations and inflammatory responses, and fresh feces were collected for microbiota analysis. The results showed that glyphosate exposure decreased the ratio of villus height to crypt depth in the duodenum and jejunum. Decreased activity of antioxidant enzymes (T-SOD, GSH, GSH-Px) and elevated MDA content were observed in different segments of the small intestine. Furthermore, the concentrations of Fe, Cu, Zn and Mg were significantly decreased or increased. In addition, the mRNA expression levels of IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, MAPK3, NF-κB, and Caspase-3 were increased after glyphosate exposure. The 16 S rRNA gene sequencing results indicated that glyphosate exposure significantly increased α-diversity and altered bacterial composition. Glyphosate exposure significantly decreased the relative abundance of the phylum Firmicutes and the genus Lactobacillus, but several potentially pathogenic bacteria were enriched. In conclusion, this study provides important insight to reveal the negative influence of glyphosate exposure on the small intestine, and the altered microbial composition may play a vital role in the process.

Keywords: Glyphosate; Inflammatory response; Ion imbalance; Microbiota; Oxidative stress; Small intestine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives
  • Herbicides*
  • Intestine, Small
  • Rats


  • Herbicides
  • glyphosate
  • Glycine