Effect of surfactant in mitigating cadmium oxide nanoparticle toxicity: Implications for mitigating cadmium toxicity in environment

Sricharani Rao Balmuri, Uthra Selvaraj, Vadivel Vinod Kumar, Savarimuthu Philip Anthony*, Aristides Michael Tsatsakis, Kirill Sergeevich Golokhvast, Thiagarajan Raman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cadmium (Cd), classified as human carcinogen, is an extremely toxic heavy metal pollutant, and there is an increasing environmental concern for cadmium exposure through anthropogenic sources including cigarette smoke. Though Cd based nanoparticles such as cadmium oxide (CdO) are being widely used in a variety of clinical and industrial applications, the toxicity of CdO nanoparticles has not been well characterized. Herein we report the toxicity of CdO nanoparticles employing zebrafish as a model. Two different CdO nanoparticles were prepared, calcination of Cd(OH)2 without any organic molecule (CdO-1) and calcination of Cd-citrate coordination polymer (CdO-2), to evaluate and compare the toxicity of these two different CdO nanoparticles. Results show that zebrafish exposed to CdO-2 nanoparticles expressed reduced toxicity as judged by lower oxidative stress levels, rescue of liver carboxylesterases and reduction in metallothionein activity compared to CdO-1 nanoparticles. Histopathological observations also support our contention that CdO-1 nanoparticles showed higher toxicity relative to CdO-2 nanoparticles. The organic unit of Cd-citrate coordination polymer might have converted into carbon during calcination that might have covered the surface of CdO nanoparticles. This carbon surface coverage can control the release of Cd2+ ions in CdO-2 compared to non-covered CdO-1 nanoparticles and hence mitigate the toxicity in the case of CdO-2. This was supported by atomic absorption spectrophotometer analyses of Cd2+ ions release from CdO-1 and CdO-2 nanoparticles. Thus the present study clearly demonstrates the toxicity of CdO nanoparticles in an aquatic animal and also indicates that the toxicity could be substantially reduced by carbon coverage. This could have important implications in terms of anthropogenic release and environmental pollution caused by Cd and human exposure to Cd2+ from sources such as cigarette smoke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cadmium oxide
  • Environment
  • Nanoparticles
  • Pollution
  • Toxicity
  • Zebrafish


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