Exercise attenuates PCB-induced changes in the mouse gut microbiome

Jeong June Choi, Sung Yong Eum, Evadnie Rampersaud, Sylvia Daunert, Maria T. Abreu, Michal Toborek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


Background: The gut microbiome, a dynamic bacterial community that interacts with the host, is integral to human health because it regulates energy metabolism and immune functions. The gut microbiome may also play a role in risks from environmental toxicants. Objectives: We investigated the effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and exercise on the composition and structure of the gut microbiome in mice. Methods: After mice exercised voluntarily for 5 weeks, they were treated by oral gavage with a mixture of environmentally relevant PCB congeners (PCB153, PCB138, and PCB180; total PCB dose, 150 μmol/kg) for 2 days. We then assessed the microbiome by determination of 16S rRNA using microarray analysis. Results: Oral exposure to PCBs significantly altered the abundance of the gut microbiome in mice primarily by decreasing the levels of Proteobacteria. The activity level of the mice correlated with a substantial shift in abundance, biodiversity, and composition of the microbiome. Importantly, exercise attenuated PCB-induced changes in the gut microbiome. Conclusions: Our results show that oral exposure to PCBs can induce substantial changes in the gut microbiome, which may then influence their systemic toxicity. These changes can be attenuated by behavioral factors, such as voluntary exercise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-730
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Environmental toxicants
  • Exercise
  • Gut microbiome
  • PhyloChip
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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