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Biol Trace Elem Res. 2017 Sep 7. doi: 10.1007/s12011-017-1132-x. [Epub ahead of print]

[Cr3O(O2CCH2CH3)6(H2O)3]NO3·H2O (Cr3) Toxicity Potential in Bacterial and Mammalian Cells.

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Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics, The University of Kansas Medical Center, Overland Park, KS, USA.
Department of Chemistry, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Emporia State University, Emporia, KS, USA.


Chromium(III) has generally been considered to be essential for proper carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and, despite recent evidence to the contrary, chromium(III)-containing compounds remain one of the most popular commercial dietary supplements. Cr3, or [Cr3O(O2CCH2CH3)6(H2O)3]NO3·H2O, is a trivalent chromium compound that is a promising chromium nutritional supplement. Studies with Cr3 have indicated that it is non-toxic in developmental and short- and long-term exposure studies in rodents, but the safety of this compound to chromosomes and cells has not been explored. The current study evaluates the mutagenicity, cytotoxicity, and clastogenicity of Cr3 in bacterial and mammalian cells and compares these results with similar studies using the bestselling Cr(III) nutritional supplement, chromium picolinate (CrPic). The mutagenicity of CrPic and Cr3 was tested in Escherichia coli FX-11 and Salmonella typhimurium (TA 98 and TA 100). Cytotoxicity was measured as a decrease in plating efficiency relative to controls after treatment with Cr3 and CrPic for 24 h in CHO K1 cells. Clastogenicity was measured by counting the number of metaphases damaged and of the total number chromosomal aberrations in CHO K1 cells. Mutagenesis assays in E. coli and S. typhimurium were negative. All treatments of Cr3 produced ≥ 84% plating efficiency except 80 μg/cm2, which reduced the plating efficiency to 62%. Cr3 at any treatment level did not produce a significant increase in the number of cells with abnormal metaphases, while treatments using ≥ 40 μg/cm2 of CrPic elevated the number significantly. These data suggest that Cr3 is significantly less mutagenic in bacteria cells and less clastogenic in CHO K1 cells, while CrPic is clastogenic in CHO K1 cells.


CHO; Chromium picolinate; Cr3; Cytotoxicity; [Cr3O(O2CCH2CH3)6(H2O)3]+

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