Renal toxicity of heavy metals (cadmium and mercury) and their amelioration with ascorbic acid in rabbits

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Feb;26(4):3909-3920. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-3819-8. Epub 2018 Dec 13.


Cadmium and mercury are among the most toxic and dangerous environmental pollutants that may cause fatal implications. Vitamin C is an important chain-breaking antioxidant and enzyme co-factor against heavy metals. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the toxicological effects of cadmium chloride, mercuric chloride, and their co-administration on biochemical parameters of blood serum and metal bioaccumulation in kidneys and also to elucidate the protective effect of vitamin C in rabbits against these metals. In the current research, cadmium chloride (1.5 mg/kg), mercuric chloride(1.2 mg/kg), and vitamin C (150 mg/kg of body weight) were orally administered to eight treatment groups of the rabbits (1, control; 2, vitamin; 3, CdCl2; 4, HgCl2; 5, vitamin + CdCl2; 6, vitamin + HgCl2; 7, CdCl2 + HgCl2, and 8, vitamin + CdCl2 + HgCl2). After the biometric measurements of all experimental rabbits, biochemical parameters viz. creatinine, cystatin C, uric acid, and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and metal bioaccumulation were determined using commercially available kits and atomic absorption spectrophotometer, respectively. The levels of creatinine (28.3 ± 1.1 μmol/l), cystatin C (1932.5 ± 38.5 ηg/ml), uric acid (4.8 ± 0.1 mg/day), and ALP (51.6 ± 1.1 IU/l) were significantly (P < 0.05) increased due to administration of mercuric chloride but in the presence of vitamin C, the effects of mercuric chloride on creatinine (21.9 ± 1.4 μmol/l), cystatin C (1676.2 ± 42.2 ηg/ml), uric acid (3.9 ± 0.1 mg/day), and ALP (43.3 ± 0.8 IU/l) were less as compared to metal-exposed specimens. Similar results were found in rabbits treated with cadmium chloride and vitamin C and also with co-administration of both metals and vitamin C. Because of the bio-accumulative nature of cadmium chloride and mercuric chloride, these metals were accumulated in kidneys of rabbits, which might lead to deleterious effects. The results of the present study provide an insight into the toxicity of the cadmium chloride, mercuric chloride, and/or their combination on biochemical parameters as well as kidneys of the rabbits and the ameliorating potential of vitamin C against these metals is also evaluated.

Keywords: Cadmium chloride; Heavy metals; Mercuric chloride; Vitamin C.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Cadmium / pharmacokinetics
  • Cadmium / toxicity
  • Cadmium Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Cadmium Chloride / toxicity*
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Cystatin C / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacokinetics
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Mercuric Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Mercuric Chloride / toxicity*
  • Mercury / pharmacokinetics
  • Mercury / toxicity
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology
  • Rabbits
  • Uric Acid / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Cystatin C
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Protective Agents
  • Cadmium
  • Uric Acid
  • Mercuric Chloride
  • Creatinine
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium Chloride
  • Ascorbic Acid