Estimation of cadmium content in Egyptian foodstuffs: health risk assessment, biological responses of human HepG2 cells to food-relevant concentrations of cadmium, and protection trials using rosmarinic and ascorbic acids

  • Wageh Sobhy Darwish
  • Hitoshi Chiba
  • Abdelazim Elsayed Elhelaly
  • Shu-Ping HuiEmail author
Research Article


Cadmium (Cd) is an environmental pollutant that can get entry into human body via ingestion of contaminated foods causing multiple organ damage. This study aimed at monitoring Cd residues in 20 foodstuffs of animal origin that are commonly consumed in Egypt. Health risk assessment was conducted via calculation of Cd dietary intakes and non-carcinogenic target hazard quotient. An in vitro approach was performed to investigate the constitutive effects of Cd on human hepatoma (HepG2) cells under food-relevant concentrations. Trials to reduce Cd-induced adverse effects on HepG2 cells were done using rosmarinic (RMA) and ascorbic acids (ASA). The achieved results indicated contamination of the tested foodstuffs with Cd at high levels with potential human health hazards. Cd at food-relevant concentrations caused significant cytotoxicity to HepG2 cells. This may be attributed to induction of oxidative stress and inflammation, as indicated by the overexpression of stress and inflammatory markers. At the same time, Cd downregulated xenobiotic transporters and upregulated the proliferation factors. Co-exposure of HepG2 cells to Cd and micronutrients such as RMA and ASA led to recovery of cells from the oxidative damage, and subsequently cell viability was strongly improved. RMA and ASA ameliorated the biological responses of HepG2 cells to Cd exposure.


Cadmium Egypt HepG2 cells Ascorbic acid Rosmarinic acid 


Author contributions

W. S. Darwish designed the study, conducted the experiments, drafted the manuscript, and interpreted the results. H. Chiba designed the study and interpreted the results. A.E. Elhelaly collected the samples. S.P. Hui designed the study, supervised the work, and interpreted the results.

Funding information

This study was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_4852_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (DOCX 13 kb)
11356_2019_4852_Fig6_ESM.png (8.1 mb)
Supplementary Figure 1

Summary for the biological responses of Hepg2 cells to food-relevant concentrations of Cd and protection with RMA and ASA (PNG 8293 kb)

High Resolution Image (TIF 4560 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wageh Sobhy Darwish
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hitoshi Chiba
    • 3
  • Abdelazim Elsayed Elhelaly
    • 4
    • 5
  • Shu-Ping Hui
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Advanced Lipid Analysis, Faculty of Health SciencesHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Food Control Department, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineZagazig UniversityZagazigEgypt
  3. 3.Department of NutritionSapporo University of Health SciencesSapporoJapan
  4. 4.Department of Food Hygiene and Control, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineSuez Canal UniversityIsmailiaEgypt
  5. 5.Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, School of MedicineGifu UniversityGifuJapan

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