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Time-dependent toxicity of cadmium telluride quantum dots on liver and kidneys in mice: histopathological changes with elevated free cadmium ions and hydroxyl radicals

Authors Wang M, Wang J, Sun H, Han S, Feng S, Shi L, Meng P, Li J, Huang P, Sun Z

Received 2 January 2016

Accepted for publication 8 March 2016

Published 25 May 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 2319—2328


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang

Mengmeng Wang,1,2,* Jilong Wang,1,2,* Hubo Sun,1,2 Sihai Han,3 Shuai Feng,1 Lu Shi,1 Peijun Meng,1,2 Jiayi Li,1,2 Peili Huang,1,2 Zhiwei Sun1,2

1Department of Toxicology and Sanitary Chemistry, School of Public Health, Capital Medical University, 2Beijing Key Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 3College of Food and Bioengineering, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: A complete understanding of the toxicological behavior of quantum dots (QDs) in vivo is of great importance and a prerequisite for their application in humans. In contrast with the numerous cytotoxicity studies investigating QDs, only a few in vivo studies of QDs have been reported, and the issue remains controversial. Our study aimed to understand QD-mediated toxicity across different time points and to explore the roles of free cadmium ions (Cd2+) and hydroxyl radicals (·OH) in tissue damage. Male ICR mice were administered a single intravenous dose (1.5 µmol/kg) of CdTe QDs, and liver and kidney function and morphology were subsequently examined at 1, 7, 14, and 28 days. Furthermore, ·OH production in the tissue was quantified by trapping ·OH with salicylic acid (SA) as 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHBA) and detecting it using a high-performance liquid chromatography fluorescence method. We used the induction of tissue metallothionein levels and 2,3-DHBA:SA ratios as markers for elevated Cd2+ from the degradation of QDs and ·OH generation in the tissue, respectively. Our experimental results revealed that the QD-induced histopathological changes were time-dependent with elevated Cd2+ and ·OH, and could recover after a period of time. The Cd2+ and ·OH exhibited delayed effects in terms of histopathological abnormalities. Histological assessments performed at multiple time points might facilitate the evaluation of the biological safety of QDs.

Keywords: quantum dot, cadmium ion, metallothionein, hydroxyl radical, toxicity

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