Comparison of the neurotoxicity associated with cobalt nanoparticles and cobalt chloride in Wistar rats

Fuli Zheng, Zhousong Luo, Chunyan Zheng, Jing Li, Jingwen Zeng, Hongyu Yang, Jinfa Chen, Yanqiao Jin, Michael Aschner, Siying Wu, Qunwei Zhang, Huangyuan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Cobalt nanoparticles (CoNPs) have been widely used in industry given their physical, chemical and magnetic properties; however, CoNPs may cause neurological symptoms and diseases in human, yet their mechanisms of toxicity remain unknown. Here, we used male Wistar rats to investigate differences in the toxic effects associated with CoNPs and CoCl 2 . Upon exposure to CoCl 2 , and 96 nm or 123 nm CoNPs at the same concentration, the Co 2+ content in CoCl 2 group was significantly higher than that in either the CoNPs groups in brain tissues and blood, but lower in liver. Significant neural damage was observed in both hippocampus and cortex of the temporal lobe. Increase malondialdehyde (MDA) content and CASPASE 9 protein level were associated both with CoCl 2 and CoNPs treatments, consistent with lipid perioxidation and apoptosis. Heme oxygenase-1 and (NF-E2) p45-related factor-2 protein levels were elevated in response to 96 nm CoNPs exposure. In PC12 cells, NRF2 downregulation led to reduced cell viability and increased apoptotic rate. In conclusion, both CoNPs and CoCl 2 cause adverse neural effects, with nanoparticles showing greater neurotoxic potency. In addition, NRF2 protects neural cells from damage induced by CoCl 2 and CoNPs by activating downstream antioxidant responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-99
Number of pages10
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019


  • CoCl
  • CoNPs
  • NRF2
  • Neurotoxic effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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