Protective Effect of Dietary Chitosan on Cadmium Accumulation in Rats

Nutr Res Pract. 2016 Feb;10(1):19-25. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2016.10.1.19. Epub 2015 Dec 11.


Background/objectives: Cadmium is a toxic metal that is an occupational and environmental concern especially because of its human carcinogenicity; it induces serious adverse effects in various organs and tissues. Even low levels of exposure to cadmium could be harmful owing to its extremely long half-life in the body. Cadmium intoxication may be prevented by the consumption of dietary components that potentially reduce its accumulation in the body. Dietary chitosan is a polysaccharide derived from animal sources; it has been known for its ability to bind to divalent cations including cadmium, in addition to other beneficial effects including hypocholesterolemic and anticancer effects. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the role of dietary chitosan in reducing cadmium accumulation using an in vivo system.

Materials/methods: Cadmium was administered orally at 2 mg (three times per week) to three groups of Sprague-Dawley rats: control, low-dose, and high-dose (0, 3, and 5%, respectively) chitosan diet groups for eight weeks. Cadmium accumulation, as well as tissue functional and histological changes, was determined.

Results: Compared to the control group, rats fed the chitosan diet showed significantly lower levels of cadmium in blood and tissues including the kidneys, liver, and femur. Biochemical analysis of liver function including the determination of aspartate aminotransferase and total bilirubin levels showed that dietary chitosan reduced hepatic tissue damage caused by cadmium intoxication and prevented the associated bone disorder.

Conclusions: These results suggest that dietary chitosan has the potential to reduce cadmium accumulation in the body as well as protect liver function and bone health against cadmium intoxication.

Keywords: Chitosan; bone disorder; cadmium; liver function; mineral metabolism.