In March 2011, an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant led to major problems, including the release of radionuclides such as Cesium (Cs)-137 into the environment. Ever since this accident, Cs-137 in foods has become a serious problem. In this study, we determined the concentration of Cs-137 in the feces, urine, and ruminal contents of cattle and demonstrated the possibility of its elimination from the body by intestinal bacteria. The results revealed a high Cs-137 concentration in the feces; in fact, this concentration was higher than that in skeletal muscles and other samples from several animals. Furthermore, intestinal bacteria were able to trap Cs-137, showing an uptake ratio within the range of 38-81% in vitro. This uptake appeared to be mediated through the sodium-potassium (Na+-K+) ion pump in the bacterial cell membrane. This inference was drawn based on the fact that the uptake ratio of Cs-137 was decreased in media with high potassium concentration. In addition, it was demonstrated that intestinal bacteria hindered the trapping of Cs-137 by the animal. Cattle feces showed high concentration of Cs-137 and intestinal bacteria trapped Cs-137. This study is the first report showing that intestinal bacteria contribute to the elimination of Cs-137 from the body.
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