The purpose of this study is to evaluate the overall toxicity of nasal instilled nanoscale copper particles (23.5 nm) in mice. Pathological examination, target organs identification, and blood biochemical assay of experimental mice were carried out in comparison with micro-sized copper particles (17 m). However, only in the high-dose group of copper nanoparticles (40 mg/kg body weight instilled for three times in one week), the body weight of mice were retarded and significant pathological changes were observed. There were hydropic degeneration around the central vein and the spotty necrosis of hepatocytes in the liver and swelling in the renal glomerulus, while, severe lesion associated with the decreased number of olfactory cells and the dilapidated laminated structure were also observed in the olfactory bulb. The serum biochemical assay also indicated the sign of renal and hepatic lesion. However, there were no obvious pathological and physiological damages in the mice after instilling different-sized copper nanoparticles with low dose of 1 mg/kg body weight. The retention and distribution of copper in various tissues show that the liver, kidneys and olfactory bulb are the main accumulated tissues for copper particles, which were determined by high sensitive element-specific technique of ICP-MS. The copper contents of the liver, kidneys and the olfactory bulb increase significantly at the group of 40 mg/kg compared to the control group, which is in agreement with the histological changes. Therefore, the data indicate that nasal inhaled copper particles at very high dosage can translocate to other organs and tissues and further induce certain lesions. The present results are helpful to get better understanding of the risk assessment and evaluation for copper nanoparticles.
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