Pulmonary toxicity of instilled cadmium-doped silica nanoparticles during acute and subacute stages in rats

Teresa Coccini, Sergio Barni, Rita Vaccarone, Piercarlo Mustarelli, Luigi Manzo, Elisa Roda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Potential risk associated with new nanomaterial exposure needs to be assessed. This in vivo study investigated pulmonary effects of engineered cadmium-containing silica nanoparticles Cd/SiNPs (1 mg/rat), silica SiNPs (600 μg/rat) and CdCl2 (400 μg/rat) 1, 7 and 30 days after intratracheal instillation. Comprehensive histopathological and immunocytochemical characterization of lung damage in terms of apoptosis, cell proliferation, inflammation, fibrosis and metabolism were obtained. After exposure to all treatments, lung parenchyma showed injury patterns characterized by collapsed alveoli, inflammation, granuloma formation, thickened alveolar septa and bronchiolar epithelium exfoliation. Type II pneumocytes, containing scarcely surfactantlamellated bodies, were also observed. Apoptotic phenomena enhanced as following, Cd/SiNPs>CdCl2> SiNPs. In parallel with these findings, a significant increase of PCNA-immunoreactive cells was detected together with high mitotic activity. Cellular localization and distribution of IL-6, IP-10 and TGF-ß1 revealed an increased expression of these cytokines as evidence of an enhanced cellular inflammatory response. CYP450- immunoreactivity was also enhanced, at bronchiolar (e.g. Clara cells) and alveolar (e.g. macrophages) level after both Cd/SiNPs and CdCl2. These overall effects were observed acutely and lasted until the 30th day, with Cd/SiNPs producing the most marked effects. Collagen-immunolabelling changed particularly 7 and 30 days after Cd/SiNPs, when a strong stromal fibrogenic reaction occurred. The present findings suggest that Cd/SiNPs produce significantly greater pulmonary alterations than either SiNPs or CdCl2 under the present experimental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-209
Number of pages15
JournalHistology and Histopathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Apoptosis
  • Fibrosis
  • In vivo
  • Inflammation
  • Nanotoxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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