Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 186, Issue 1, pp 226–237 | Cite as

Boron Affects the Development of the Kidney Through Modulation of Apoptosis, Antioxidant Capacity, and Nrf2 Pathway in the African Ostrich Chicks

  • Haseeb Khaliq
  • Wang Jing
  • Xiao Ke
  • Yang Ke-Li
  • Sun Peng-peng
  • Lei Cui
  • Qiu Wei-wei
  • Lei Zhixin
  • Liu Hua-Zhen
  • Song Hui
  • Zhong Ju-Ming
  • Peng Ke-MeiEmail author


The nuclear-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway is the most important mechanism in antioxidant capacity, which regulates the cell’s redox homeostasis. In addition, Nrf2 pathway also can inhibit cell apoptosis. The mechanism of boron actions on various organs is well documented. But, it is not known whether boron can also regulate the Nrf2 pathway in the kidneys. Therefore, in this research, the actions of boron on the kidneys of ostrich chicks, especially the antioxidant effects, have been studied. The ostrich chicks were divided into six groups and supplemented with boric acid (BA) (source of boron) in the drinking water (0, 40, 80, 160, 320, 640 mg respectively) to examine apoptotic, antioxidant, biochemical, and histochemical alterations induced by boron administration in the ostrich chick’s kidney. The cellular apoptosis was assessed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP Nick-End Labeling (TUNEL) assay. The relative antioxidant enzymes (T-AOC, MDA, GSH-Px, SOD, GR, CAT) and biochemical indices (ALT, AST, ALP, CK, LDH, BUN, CREA, UA) in the kidney were determined by spectrophotometric method. The expression of three important genes in the antioxidant pathway (Nrf2, HO-1, GCLc) was measured by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR), and the localization of key regulator Nrf2 was examined by immunohistochemistry (IHC) method. Western blotting was also performed to further validate our results. Our results revealed that low doses of boron (up to 160 mg) had positive effect, while high doses (especially 640 mg) caused negative effect on the development of the kidney. The cellular apoptosis was in a biphasic manner by altering the boron quantities. The low doses regulate the oxidative and enzyme activity in the kidney. The IHC and western blot showed maximum localization of Nrf2 in 80 mg/L BA dose group. Furthermore, supplementation of boron at low doses upregulated the expression of genes involved in the antioxidant pathway. Taken together, the study demonstrated that low levels of boron (up to 160 mg) inhibited the cell apoptosis, regulate the enzyme activity, and improved the antioxidant system, thus may encourage the development of the ostrich chick’s kidney, while a high amount of boron especially 640 mg/L promoted cell apoptosis and reduced the antioxidant capacity, thus caused negative effect to the ostrich chick’s kidney.


Ostrich chicks Boron Kidney tissue Antioxidant capacity Nrf2 pathway 


Funding Information

This study was approved and financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation Project of China (Nos. 31672504, 31272517).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All experimental practices including the animals were certified by the Huazhong Agriculture University Animal Care and Use Committee. The procedures which we executed in the study were also according to the guidelines of “International Regulatory Protocols for Biomedical study with the animals.”

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Animal Science and Veterinary MedicineHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Veterinary MedicineAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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