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Toxicol Sci. 2010 Aug;116(2):562-76. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfq137. Epub 2010 May 10.

Brain distribution and toxicological evaluation of a systemically delivered engineered nanoscale ceria.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0055, USA.


Engineered nanoscale ceria is used as a diesel fuel catalyst. Little is known about its mammalian central nervous system effects. The objective of this paper is to characterize the biodistribution of a 5-nm citrate-stabilized ceria dispersion from blood into brain and its pro- or antioxidant effects. An approximately 4% aqueous ceria dispersion was iv infused into rats (0, 100, and up to 250 mg/kg), which were terminated after 1 or 20 h. Ceria concentration, localization, and chemical speciation in the brain were assessed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, light and electron microscopy (EM), and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). Pro- or antioxidative stress effects were assessed as protein carbonyls, 3-nitrotyrosine, and protein-bound 4-hydroxy-2-trans-nonenal in hippocampus, cortex, and cerebellum. Glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase, manganese superoxide dismutase, and catalase levels and activities were measured in hippocampus. Catalase levels and activities were also measured in cortex and cerebellum. Na fluorescein and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) were given iv as blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity markers. Mortality was seen after administration of 175-250 mg ceria/kg. Twenty hours after infusion of 100 mg ceria/kg, brain HRP was marginally elevated. EM and EELS revealed mixed Ce(III) and Ce(IV) valence in the freshly synthesized ceria in vitro and in ceria agglomerates in the brain vascular compartment. Ceria was not seen in microvascular endothelial or brain cells. Ceria elevated catalase levels at 1 h and increased catalase activity at 20 h in hippocampus and decreased catalase activity at 1 h in cerebellum. Compared with a previously studied approximately 30-nm ceria, this ceria was more toxic, was not seen in the brain, and produced little oxidative stress effect to the hippocampus and cerebellum. The results are contrary to the hypothesis that a smaller engineered nanomaterial would more readily permeate the BBB.

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