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Comparative toxicity and biodistribution of copper nanoparticles and cupric ions in rats

Authors Lee I, Ko J, Park S, Lim J, Shin I, Moon C, Kim S, Her J, Kim J

Received 13 February 2016

Accepted for publication 7 April 2016

Published 16 June 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 2883—2900


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas Webster

In-Chul Lee,1 Je-Won Ko,1 Sung-Hyeuk Park,1 Je-Oh Lim,1 In-Sik Shin,1 Changjong Moon,1 Sung-Hwan Kim,2 Jeong-Doo Heo,3 Jong-Choon Kim1

1College of Veterinary Medicine BK21 Plus Project Team, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, 2Jeonbuk Department of Inhalation Research, Korea Institute of Toxicology, Jeongeup, 3Gyeongnam Department of Environment and Toxicology, Korea Institute of Toxicology, Gyeongnam, Republic of Korea

Abstract: Despite widespread use and prospective biomedical applications of copper nanoparticles (Cu NPs), their biosafety issues and kinetics remain unclear. Thus, the aim of this study was to compare the detailed in vivo toxicity of Cu NPs and cupric ions (CuCl2; Cu ions) after a single oral dose. We determined the physicochemical characteristics of Cu NPs, including morphology, hydrodynamic size, zeta potential, and dissolution in gastric (pH 1.5), vehicle (pH 6.5), and intestinal (pH 7.8) conditions. We also evaluated the kinetics of Cu following a single equivalent dose (500 mg/kg) of Cu NPs and Cu ions. Cu NPs had highest dissolution (84.5%) only in gastric conditions when compared with complete dissolution of Cu ions under various physiological milieus. Kinetic analysis revealed that highest Cu levels in blood and tested organs of Cu NP-treated rats were 15%–25% lower than that of Cu ions. Similar to the case of Cu ions, Cu levels in the tested organs (especially liver, kidney, and spleen) of Cu NP-treated rats increased significantly when compared with the vehicle control. However, delay in reaching the highest level and biopersistence of Cu were observed in the blood and tested organs of Cu NP-treated rats compared with Cu ions. Extremely high levels of Cu in feces indicated that unabsorbed Cu NPs or absorbed Cu ions were predominantly eliminated through liver/feces. Cu NPs exerted apparent toxicological effects at higher dose levels compared with Cu ions and showed sex-dependent differences in mortality, biochemistry, and histopathology. Liver, kidney, and spleen were the major organs affected by Cu NPs. Collectively, the toxicity and kinetics of Cu NPs are most likely influenced by the release of Cu dissociated from Cu NPs under physiological conditions.

Keywords: copper nanoparticles, cupric ions, comparative toxicity, toxicokinetics

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