Chronic Low-Dose Cadmium Exposure Impairs Cutaneous Wound Healing With Defective Early Inflammatory Responses After Skin Injury

Toxicol Sci. 2017 Oct 1;159(2):327-338. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfx137.


Impairment of the immune system is a developing concern in evaluating the toxicity of cadmium (Cd). In the present study, we investigated if Cd could impair cutaneous wound healing through interfering with inflammation after injury. We found that exposure of mice to CdCl2 through drinking water at doses of 10, 30, and 50 mg/l for 8 weeks significantly impaired cutaneous wound healing. Chronic 30 mg/l CdCl2 treatment elevated murine blood Cd level comparable to that of low dose Cd-exposed humans, had no effect on blood total and differential leukocyte counts, but reduced neutrophil infiltration, chemokines (CXCL1 and CXCL2), and proinflammatory cytokines (TNFα, IL-1β, and IL-6) expression in wounded tissue at early stage after injury. Wounded tissue homogenates from CdCl2-treated mice had lower chemotactic activity for neutrophils than those from untreated mice. Mechanistic studies showed that chronic Cd treatment suppressed ERK1/2 and NF-κB p65 phosphorylation in wounded tissue at early stage after injury. Compared with neutrophils isolated from untreated mice, neutrophils from CdCl2 treated mice and normal neutrophils treated with CdCl2 invitro both had lower chemotactic response, calcium mobilization and ERK1/2 phosphorylation upon chemoattractant stimulation. Collectively, our study indicate that chronic low-dose Cd exposure impaired cutaneous wound healing by reducing neutrophil infiltration through inhibiting chemokine expression and neutrophil chemotactic response, and suppressing proinflammatory cytokine expression. Cd may suppress chemokine and proinflammatory expression through inactivating ERK1/2 and NF-κB, and inhibit neutrophil chemotaxis by attenuating calcium mobilization and ERK1/2 phosphorylation in response to chemoattractants.

Keywords: cadmium; chemokine; neutrophil; proinflammatory cytokine; wound healing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadmium Chloride / blood
  • Cadmium Chloride / toxicity*
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte / drug effects
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / injuries
  • Skin / pathology
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • NF-kappa B
  • Cadmium Chloride