Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 11, pp 10641–10650 | Cite as

Depression, anxiety-like behavior, and memory impairment in mice exposed to chitosan-coated zein nanoparticles

  • Vinícius Silva Lima
  • Abraão Tiago Batista Guimarães
  • Amanda Pereira da Costa Araújo
  • Fernanda Neves Estrela
  • Ives Charlie da Silva
  • Nathalie Ferreira Silva de Melo
  • Leonardo Fernandes Fraceto
  • Guilherme MalafaiaEmail author
Research Article


The advent of biotechnology provided the synthesis of nanoproducts with diverse applications in the field of medicine, agriculture, food, among others. However, the toxicity of many nanoparticles (NP) currently used, which can penetrate natural systems and impact organisms, is not known. Thus, in this study, we evaluated whether the short exposure (5 days) to low concentrations of chitosan-coated zein nanoparticles (ZNP-CS) (0.2 ng/kg, 40 ng/kg, and 400.00 ng/kg) was capable of causing behavioral alterations compatible with cognitive deficit, as well as anxiety and depression-like behavior in Swiss mice. However, we observed an anxiogenic effect in the animals exposed to the highest ZNP-CS concentration (400.00 ng/kg), without locomotor alterations suggestive of sedation or hyperactivity in the elevated plus maze (EPM) test. We also observed that the ZNP-CS caused depressive-like behavior, indicated by the longer immobile time in the tail suspension test and the animals exposed to ZNP-CS presented deficit in recognition of the new object, not related to locomotor alteration in this test. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the neurotoxicity of ZNP in a mammal animal model, contributing to the biological safety assessment of these nanocomposites.


Neurotoxicity Engineered nanomaterials Mammalian Environmental toxicology 



The authors are grateful to CNPq and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Goiás (FAPEG, Brazil) for granting the scholarship to the student who developed the study.

Funding information

This study was financially supported by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq) (Brazilian research agency) (Proc. N. 467801/2014-2) and Goiano Federal Institute (Proc. No. 23218.000286/2017-21).


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vinícius Silva Lima
    • 1
  • Abraão Tiago Batista Guimarães
    • 2
  • Amanda Pereira da Costa Araújo
    • 1
  • Fernanda Neves Estrela
    • 2
  • Ives Charlie da Silva
    • 3
  • Nathalie Ferreira Silva de Melo
    • 4
  • Leonardo Fernandes Fraceto
    • 5
  • Guilherme Malafaia
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Post-graduation Program in Cerrado Natural Resource Conservation and Biological Research LaboratoryInstituto Federal Goiano–Urutaí CampusUrutaiBrazil
  2. 2.Post-graduation Program in Biotechnology and BiodiversityUniversidade Federal de GoiásGoianiaBrazil
  3. 3.Itaquera Campus, São PauloBrazil UniversitySão PauloBrazil
  4. 4.Faculty of Medicine São Leopoldo MandicArarasBrazil
  5. 5.Institute of Science and Technology of SorocabaSão Paulo State University (UNESP)SorocabaBrazil
  6. 6.Laboratório de Pesquisas BiológicasInstituto Federal Goiano–Campus UrutaíUrutaíBrazil

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