Toxicology and industrial health

Nano-CuO impairs spatial cognition associated with inhibiting hippocampal long-term potentiation via affecting glutamatergic neurotransmission in rats.

PMID 29665767


Manufactured metal nanoparticles and their applications are continuously expanding because of their unique characteristics while their increasing use may predispose to potential health problems. Several studies have reported the adverse effects of copper oxide nanoparticles (nano-CuO) relative to ecotoxicity and cell toxicity, whereas little is known about the neurotoxicity of nano-CuO. The present study aimed to examine its effects on spatial cognition, hippocampal function, and the possible mechanisms. Male Wistar rats were used to establish an animal model, and nano-CuO was administered at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg/day for 2 weeks. The Morris water maze (MWM) test was employed to evaluate learning and memory. The long-term potentiation (LTP) from Schaffer collaterals to the hippocampal CA1 region, and the effects of nano-CuO on synases were recorded in the hippocampal CA1 neurons of rats. MWM test showed that learning and memory abilities were impaired significantly by nano-CuO ( p < 0.05). The LTP test demonstrated that the field excitatory postsynaptic potential (fEPSP) slopes were significantly lower in nano-CuO-treated groups compared with the control group ( p < 0.01). Furthermore, the data of whole-cell patch-clamp experiments showed that nano-CuO markedly depressed the frequencies of both spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) and miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs), indicating an effect of nano-CuO on inhibiting the release frequency of glutamate presynapticly ( p < 0.01). Meanwhile, the amplitudes of both sEPSC and mEPSC were significantly reduced in nano-CuO-treated animals, which suggested that the effect of nano-CuO modulates postsynaptic receptor kinetics ( p < 0.01). Paired pulse facilitation (PPF) ( p < 0.05) and the expression of NR2A, but not NR2B, of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) subunits ( p < 0.05), were decreased significantly. In conclusion, nano-CuO impaired glutamate transmission presynapticly and postsynapticly, which may contribute importantly to diminished LTP and other induced cognitive deficits.