Drp-1-Dependent Mitochondrial Fragmentation Contributes to Cobalt Chloride-Induced Toxicity in Caenorhabditis elegans

Fuli Zheng, Pan Chen, Huangyuan Li, Michael Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Excess cobalt may lead to metallosis, characterized by sensorineural hearing loss, visual, and cognitive impairment, and peripheral neuropathy. In the present study, we sought to address the molecular mechanisms of cobalt-induced neurotoxicity, using Caenorhabditis elegans as an experimental model. Exposure to cobalt chloride for 2 h significantly decreased the survival rate and lifespan in nematodes. Cobalt chloride exposure led to increased oxidative stress and upregulation of glutathione S-transferase 4. Consistently, its upstream regulator skn-1, a mammalian homolog of the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2, was activated. Among the mRNAs examined by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reactions, apoptotic activator egl-1, proapoptotic gene ced-9, autophagic (bec-1 and lgg-1), and mitochondrial fission regulator drp-1 were significantly upregulated upon cobalt exposure, concomitant with mitochondrial fragmentation, as determined by confocal microscopy. Moreover, drp-1 inhibition suppressed the cobalt chloride-induced reactive oxygen species generation, growth defects, and reduced mitochondrial fragmentation. Our novel findings suggest that the acute toxicity of cobalt is mediated by mitochondrial fragmentation and drp-1 upregulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-167
Number of pages10
JournalToxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • cobalt
  • drp-1
  • mitochondria fragmentation
  • oxidative stress
  • toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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