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Toxicol Lett. 2006 May 25;163(2):109-20. Epub 2005 Nov 14.

Acute toxicological effects of copper nanoparticles in vivo.

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  • 1Lab for Bio-Environmental Health Sciences of Nanoscale Materials, Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 918, Beijing 100049, China.


To assess the toxicity of copper nanoparticles (23.5 nm) in vivo, LD(50), morphological changes, pathological examinations and blood biochemical indexes of experimental mice are studied comparatively with micro-copper particles (17 microm) and cupric ions (CuCl(2).2H(2)O). The LD(50) for the nano-, micro-copper particles and cupric ions exposed to mice via oral gavage are 413, >5000 and 110 mg/kg body weight, respectively. The toxicity classes of nano and ionic copper particles both are class 3 (moderately toxic), and micro-copper is class 5 (practically non-toxic) of Hodge and Sterner Scale. Kidney, liver and spleen are found to be target organs of nano-copper particles. Nanoparticles induce gravely toxicological effects and heavy injuries on kidney, liver and spleen of experimental mice, but micro-copper particles do not, on mass basis. Results indicate a gender dependent feature of nanotoxicity. Several factors such as huge specific surface area, ultrahigh reactivity, exceeding consumption of H(+), etc. that likely cause the grave nanotoxicity observed in vivo are discussed.

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