Background: After the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, radioactive contaminants were released over a widespread area. Monitoring the biological effects of radiation exposure in animals in the ex-evacuation zone should be continued to understand the health effects of radiation exposure in humans. The present study aimed to clarify the effects of radiation by investigating whether there is any alteration in the morphology and gene expressions of immune molecules in the intestine of pigs and inobuta (wild boar and domestic pig hybrid) in the ex-evacuation zone in 2012. Gene expression analysis was performed in small intestine samples from pigs, which were collected from January to February 2012, in the ex-evacuation zone. Pigs lived freely in this zone, and their small intestine was considered to be affected by the dietary intake of radioactive contaminants. Results: Several genes were selected by microarray analysis for further investigation using real-time polymerase chain reaction. IFN-γ, which is an important inflammatory cytokine, and TLR3, which is a pattern recognize receptor for innate immune system genes, were highly elevated in these pigs. The expressions of the genes of these proteins were associated with the radiation level in the muscles. We also examined the alteration of gene expressions in wild boars 5 years after the disaster. The expression of IFN-γ and TLR3 remained high, and that of Cyclin G1, which is important in the cell cycle, was elevated. Conclusions: We demonstrated that some changes in gene expression occurred in the small intestine of animals in the ex-evacuation zone after radiation. It is difficult to conclude that these alterations are caused by only artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. However, the animals in the ex-evacuation zone might have experienced some changes owing to radioactive materials, including contaminated soil, small animals, and insects. We need to continue monitoring the effects of long-term radiation exposure in living things.
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