Intake of Boron, Cadmium, and Molybdenum enhances rat thyroid cell transformation

Emilia Luca, Laura Fici, Anna Ronchi, Ferdinando Marandino, Esther Diana Rossi, Maria Emiliana Caristo, Pasqualino Malandrino, Marco Russo, Alfredo Pontecorvi, Riccardo Vigneri, Fabiola Moretti

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BACKGROUND: Epidemiologic data in volcanic areas suggest that environmental factors might be involved in the increase of thyroid cancer (TC) incidence. Recent reports indicate that several heavy metals and metalloids are increased in volcanic areas. This study aims to evaluate the combined effect of three of these elements Boron (B), Cadmium (Cd), and Molybdenum (Mo) - all increased in the volcanic area of Mt. Etna, in Italy - on thyroid tumorigenesis in the rat.

METHODS: Female Wistar rats prone to develop thyroid tumors by low-iodine diet and methimazole treatment received ad libitum drinking water supplemented with B, Cd, and Mo at concentrations in the range found in the urine samples of residents of the volcanic area. At 5 and 10 months animals were euthanized, and their thyroid analysed. Statistical analysis was performed with a 2-way unpaired t-test.

RESULTS: No toxic effect of the three elements on the growth of the animals was observed. A significant increase of histological features of transformation was observed in thyroid follicular cells of rats treated with B, Cd, and Mo compared with those of control group. These abnormalities were associated with decreased iodine content in the thyroid.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the evidence that slightly increased environmental concentrations of B, Cd, and Mo can accelerate the appearance of transformation marks in the thyroid gland of hypothyroid rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2 2017


  • Journal Article


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