Postnuclear supernatants of rat brain regions as substrates for the in vitro assessment of cadmium-induced neurotoxicity on acetylcholinesterase activity

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2014 Apr;158(1):87-9. doi: 10.1007/s12011-014-9907-9. Epub 2014 Feb 8.


Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity is thought to be a major neurotoxicity biomarker. Considering the recently highlighted controversy over the use of AChE activity as a biomarker for the neurotoxicity induced by cadmium (Cd; a major environmental contaminant), we have evaluated the in vitro effects of different concentrations of Cd on AChE activity in postnuclear supernatants of brain regions of newborn, 21-day-old, and adult male Wistar rats. Our findings demonstrate that Cd is a consistent inhibitor of AChE activity at concentrations higher than 10(-3) M as well as that, at a concentration of 10(-2) M, Cd induces an almost absolute inhibition of this crucial enzyme in the examined postnuclear supernatants. These findings confirm previous in vitro experiments of ours, but are not in full agreement with the available in vivo findings; in fact, they underline that this in vitro approach to Cd-induced neurotoxicity does not produce the distinctive brain region-specific responses in terms of AChE activity that we have recently observed in vivo. Our study does not support the use of AChE activity as a biomarker for the assessment of Cd-induced neurotoxicity in rat brain-derived postnuclear supernatants, at least under the examined in vitro experimental conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism*
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cadmium / toxicity*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / enzymology*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Cadmium
  • Acetylcholinesterase