CBET Research Group, Dept. Zoology and Animal Cell Biology, Faculty of Science and Technology and Research Centre for Experimental Marine Biology and Biotechnology (PiE-UPV/EHU), University of the Basque Country, Basque Country, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]
The bioaccumulation, cell, tissue distribution, and biological effects of 5 nm glutathione-capped CdS quantum dots (CdS QDs) in mussels was compared to bulk and aqueous Cd forms through a two-tier experimental approach. In the 1st tier, mussels were exposed for 3 d to 0.05, 0.5 and 5 mg Cd/l (QDs, bulk, aqueous), bioaccumulation, distribution and lysosomal responses were investigated. In the 2nd tier, mussels were exposed for 21 d to the same forms at the lowest effective concentration selected after Tier 1 (0.05 mg Cd/l), biomarkers and toxicopathic effects were investigated. Accumulation was comparable in QDs and aqueous Cd exposed mussels after 3 d. After 21 d, QDs exposed mussels accumulated less than mussels exposed to aqueous Cd and localised in the endo-lysosomal system and released to the alveoli lumen (21 d) after exposure to QDs and aqueous Cd. Intracellular levels of Cd increased on exposure to QDs and aqueous Cd, and to a lesser extent to bulk, and accompanied by the up-regulation of metallothionein 10 (1 d) and 20 (1, 21 d). Lysosomal membrane destabilisation depended on Cd2+ released by all forms but was marked after exposure to aqueous Cd (1 d). Toxicopathic effects (vacuolisation, loss of digestive cells and haemocytic infiltration) were evident after exposure to QDs (1 d) and aqueous Cd (21 d). Toxicity most likely depended on the ionic load resulting from Cd2+ release from the different forms of Cd; yet nanoparticle-specific effects of QDs cannot be disregarded.