Apoptosis induction and histological changes in rat kidney following Cd-doped silica nanoparticle exposure: Evidence of persisting effects

Teresa Coccini, Sergio Barni, Luigi Manzo, Elisa Roda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Histological and immunocytochemical methods were used to examine rat's renal responses to intratracheal (i.t.) instillation of model cadmium-containing silica nanoparticles (Cd-SiNPs) and also exploring whether these potential modifications would be associated with toxicogenomic changes. Renal effects of Cd-SiNPs (1mg/rat), CdCl2 (400μg/rat), SiNPs (600μg/rat) or 0.1ml saline (control), assessed 7 and 30d post-i.t., included (i) induction of apoptosis, (ii) cell proliferation and (iii) the overall toxic response evaluated by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) immunohistochemistry as well as Periodic acid Schiff and Hematoxylin & Eosin, respectively. Area-specific apoptosis was observed in all treatment groups, the cortex and inner medulla being the most affected regions: the apoptotic changes were apparent seven days post-exposure in both areas and were still observable in inner medulla at day 30. Apoptotic frequency increase was more pronounced in Cd-SiNP-treated animals compared to either CdCl2 or SiNPs groups. At day 7, the observed parallel increased number of PCNA immunopositive cells may be associated with an enhanced cell proliferation aimed at replacing the damaged cells. Histopathological findings demonstrated comparable morphological changes of the renal structure (at glomerular and tubular levels) occurring after all treatments at both time-points and more markedly 30d after instillation. Both morphological and toxicogenomic evaluations confirmed long-lasting renal effects of Cd-SiNPs on apoptosis and regulatory processes. Bare SiNPs i.t. administration caused morphological and apoptotic changes but did not modify gene expression profile in kidney. These findings substantiate the notion that multiple assays and an integrated testing strategy should be recommended to characterize toxicological responses to nanoparticles in mammalian systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-575
Number of pages10
JournalToxicology Mechanisms and Methods
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Cadmium
  • Histopathology
  • in vivo
  • Nanotoxicology
  • Renal
  • Silica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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