Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 17, pp 16922–16932 | Cite as

Intranasal instillation of iron oxide nanoparticles induces inflammation and perturbation of trace elements and neurotransmitters, but not behavioral impairment in rats

  • Dalel Askri
  • Souhir Ouni
  • Said Galai
  • Josiane Arnaud
  • Benoit Chovelon
  • Sylvia G. Lehmann
  • Nathalie Sturm
  • Mohsen Sakly
  • Michel Sève
  • Salem Amara
Research Article


Over the last decades, engineered nanomaterials have been widely used in various applications due to their interesting properties. Among them, iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) are used as theranostic agents for cancer, and also as contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging. With the increasing production and use of these IONPs, there is an evident raise of IONP exposure and subsequently a higher risk of adverse outcome for humans and the environment. In this work, we aimed to investigate the effects of sub-acute IONP exposure on Wistar rat, particularly (i) on the emotional and learning/memory behavior, (ii) on the hematological and biochemical parameters, (iii) on the neurotransmitter content, and (vi) on the trace element homeostasis. Rats were treated during seven consecutive days by intranasal instillations at a dose of 10 mg/kg body weight. The mean body weight increased significantly in IONP-exposed rats. Moreover, several hematological parameters were normal in treated rats except the platelet count which was increased. The biochemical study revealed that phosphatase alkaline level decreased in IONP-exposed rats, but no changes were observed for the other hepatic enzymes (ALT and AST) levels. The trace element homeostasis was slightly modulated by IONP exposure. Sub-acute intranasal exposure to IONPs increased dopamine and norepinephrine levels in rat brain; however, it did not affect the emotional behavior, the anxiety index, and the learning/memory capacities of rats.


Iron oxide nanoparticles Rat Inflammation Behavior Trace elements Neurotransmitters 



We would like to thank Prof. Lassaad El Mir for providing iron oxide nanoparticles and the equipex NanoID (ANR-10-EQPX-39) for the access to the nanoZS. Thanks also to the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Auvergne Rhone Alpes Region (grant no. 16.007278.01 for Dalel Askri) for their funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

The experimental protocols were approved by the Medical Ethical Committee for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of Pasteur Institute of Tunis (approval number: LNFP/Pro 152012).

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dalel Askri
    • 1
    • 2
  • Souhir Ouni
    • 2
  • Said Galai
    • 3
  • Josiane Arnaud
    • 4
  • Benoit Chovelon
    • 4
  • Sylvia G. Lehmann
    • 5
  • Nathalie Sturm
    • 6
  • Mohsen Sakly
    • 2
  • Michel Sève
    • 1
  • Salem Amara
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Grenoble Alpes, PROMETHEE Proteomic Platform, IBP, CHU Grenoble Alpes, LBFA Inserm U1055 and BEeSyGrenobleFrance
  2. 2.Fac. Sciences of Bizerte, Unit of Integrated PhysiologyUniversity of CarthageBizerteTunisia
  3. 3.Laboratory of Clinical Biology, National Institute of NeurologyUniversity of Tunis El ManarTunisTunisia
  4. 4.Unit of Hormonal and Nutritional Biochemistry, Department of Biology, Toxicology, Pharmacology, CHU Grenoble AlpesGrenobleFrance
  5. 5.Univ. Grenoble Alpes, ISTerreGrenobleFrance
  6. 6.Department of Pathological Anatomy and CytologyCHU Grenoble AlpesGrenobleFrance

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