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Toxicol Ind Health. 2010 Jul;26(6):349-59. doi: 10.1177/0748233710371109. Epub 2010 May 26.

Prospective role of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in attenuating hexavalent chromium-induced functional and cellular damage in rat thyroid.

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Laboratory of Animal Physiology, Department of Animal Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.


Occupational exposure to toxic heavy metals may render industrial workers with thyroid-related problems. Here, we examined the role of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) against hexavalent chromium Cr (VI)-induced damage in rat thyroid gland. Potassium dichromate (K2Cr2O7) and ascorbic acid doses were 60 microg and 120 mg kg(-1) body wt (intraperitoneally [i.p.]) respectively. Treatment regimens were group I rats, saline treated control; group II, only K2Cr2O7; group III, ascorbic acid 1 hour prior K2Cr2O7; group IV, simultaneous doses of ascorbic acid and K2Cr2O7, and group V, a combined premix dose of ascorbic acid and K2 Cr2O7 (2:1 ratio). Blood samples were taken before dosing the animals and 48 hours post exposure to determine the serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free triiodothyronine (FT3) and free thyroxine (FT4) concentrations. Toward end of experiment, rats were sacrificed and thyroid glands were processed to evaluate the extent of cellular insult. Results showed significantly increased TSH and decreased FT3 and FT4 concentrations in groups II, III and IV rats as compared to control levels (p < 0.05). In contrast, in group V rats, serum TSH, FT3 and FT4 concentrations neared control concentrations. Histopathologically, protective effect of ascorbic acid was found in group V rats only, where thyroid gland structure neared control thyroid except the follicular size that was decreased (p < 0.05). Follicular density was no different from control. Basal laminae were intact, interfollicular spaces were normal. Colloid retraction and/or reabsorption were reduced maximally. Epithelial cell height was no different from control; epithelial follicular index increased only 1.3 fold, whereas nuclear-cytoplasmic (N/C) ratio was decreased by 14% only. The study indicates that the ascorbic acid may have the potential to protect thyroid gland from chromium toxicity; however, the study warrants further in-depth experimentation to precisely elucidate this role.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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