Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 1664–1670 | Cite as

Vitamin C modulates cadmium-induced hepatic antioxidants’ gene transcripts and toxicopathic changes in Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus

  • Yasser S. El-Sayed
  • Ahmed M. El-Gazzar
  • Abeer F. El-Nahas
  • Khaled M. Ashry
Research Article


Cadmium (Cd) is one of the naturally occurring heavy metals having adverse effects, while vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) is an essential micronutrient for fish, which can attenuate tissue damage owing to its chain-breaking antioxidant and free radical scavenger properties. The adult Nile tilapia fish were exposed to Cd at 5 mg/l with and without vitamin C (500 mg/kg diet) for 45 days in addition to negative and positive controls fed with the basal diet and basal diet supplemented with vitamin C, respectively. Hepatic relative mRNA expression of genes involved in antioxidant function, metallothionein (MT), glutathione S-transferase (GST-α1), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx1), was assessed using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Hepatic architecture was also histopathologically examined. Tilapia exposed to Cd exhibited upregulated antioxidants’ gene transcript levels, GST-⍺1, GPx1, and MT by 6.10-, 4.60-, and 4.29-fold, respectively. Histopathologically, Cd caused severe hepatic changes of multifocal hepatocellular and pancreatic acinar necrosis, and lytic hepatocytes infiltrated with eosinophilic granular cells. Co-treatment of Cd-exposed fish with vitamin C overexpressed antioxidant enzyme-related genes, GST-⍺1 (16.26-fold) and GPx1 (18.68-fold), and maintained the expression of MT gene close to control (1.07-fold), averting the toxicopathic lesions induced by Cd. These results suggested that vitamin C has the potential to protect Nile tilapia from Cd hepatotoxicity via sustaining hepatic antioxidants’ genes transcripts and normal histoarchitecture.


Cadmium Vitamin C Hepatotoxicity Antioxidants Gene expression RT-PCR 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineDamanhour UniversityDamanhourEgypt
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineAlexandria UniversityEdfinaEgypt
  3. 3.Department of Animal Husbandry and Animal Wealth Development, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineAlexandria UniversityEdfinaEgypt

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