Acute toxicological effects of copper nanoparticles in vivo

Zhen Chen, Huan Meng, Gengmei Xing, Chunying Chen, Yuliang Zhao, Guang Jia, Tiancheng Wang, Hui Yuan, Chang Ye, Feng Zhao, Zhifang Chai, Chuanfeng Zhu, Xiaohong Fang, Baocheng Ma, Lijun Wan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

805 Scopus citations


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 μm) and cupric ions (CuCl2· 2H2O). The LD50 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 25 2006


  • Copper nanoparticles
  • In vivo
  • LD
  • Nanotoxicity
  • Target organs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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