Metabolic Toxicity and Alteration of Cellular Bioenergetics by Hexavalent Chromium

  • Sudipta PalEmail author
  • Kanu Shil
Living reference work entry


Extensive industrialization, exhaustive mining, and whirlwind urbanization disseminate deep impact upon the world’s living being since dawn of the modern civilization. The consequences of all these environmental and anthropogenic attributions in the atmosphere lead toward non-returnable noxious situation. Both intentional and accidental activities of human accelerate environmental degradation via release of pollutants and give a momentum in gradual bioaccumulation of toxicants in the food chain resulting in deleterious feedback to its creator in terms of hazardous and toxic health manifestations. Cr(VI) is an industrial, anthropogenic, and airborne environmental toxicant that acquires to have carcinogenic, genotoxic, and organ-specific irreversible complications. Due to its high diffusional proficiency, Cr(VI) penetrates into the cellular compartments through phosphate and sulfate anion exchange carriers. Cr(VI), being a potential oxidizing agent for organic compounds and strong free radical generator in the biological system, gets oxidized by ascorbic acid and glutathione and liberates different reduced forms of chromium. These in turn stimulate ample amount of free radical formation through Fenton reaction. Cellular macro- and micromolecules are very much delicate and sensitive to these free radicals like ROS, RNS, and singlet oxygen species which interrupt their normo-physiological purpose. Being a potent neurotoxic and antioxidant suppressive agent, Cr(VI) enhances lipid peroxidation and other neurological complications among the exposed organisms. Recently it has been also enlisted in the endocrine disruptor chemicals thus executing its hormonal and developmental toxicities. Through reduction of antioxidant level and flavoenzyme activity, Cr(VI) expresses sensitive mutational, structural, and regulatory intervention inside the cells. Cr(VI) promotes posttranslational modification principally by abnormal glycosylation which conveys conformational changes in active biomolecules and biological catalysts. Metabolism is an organized series of life-sustaining biochemical transformation of crucial biomolecules within the cells. Cr(VI) insensitively acts on metabolic pathways by altering the enzymological parameters, shifting the conformational architecture of enzymes as well as by exhaustion of substrate level in the cytoplasm. Cr(VI) toxicity compels significant depletion of glycolytic substrate and end products inducing hypoglycemic situation in the organism. Additionally, it also affects the glycogenolytic activity in the muscle and liver. The principal mitochondrial energy-generating pathways, viz., TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation, are found to be suppressed due to Cr(VI) toxicity in hepatic, muscular, renal, and cerebral tissue. The linking enzymes of cytoplasmic and mitochondrial metabolic pathways such as lactate dehydrogenase and pyruvate dehydrogenase are adversely affected by Cr(VI) toxicity. Different proteolytic enzymes and their activities as well as substrates of protein metabolism along with transaminase enzyme activity are notably altered in the organism owing to exposure of this heavy metal. Thus Cr(VI) toxicity prominently disturbs metabolic integration and subsequently alters cellular bioenergetics in the mammalian system.


Hexavalent chromium Cellular bioenergetics Carbohydrate metabolism Protein content Protease activity Serum lipid profile Fatty acid synthase 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nutritional Biochemistry and Toxicology Laboratory, Department of Human PhysiologyTripura University (A Central University)SuryamaninagarIndia
  2. 2.Department of Human PhysiologyTripura UniversityAgartalaIndia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Chaudhery Mustansar Hussain
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Environmental SciencesNew Jersey Institute of TechnologyNewarkUSA

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