Silicon in consuming water induced irreversible lung pathologies in rodents

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Bone density, skin and hair health and the mobility of the joints depend to a large extent on the micro-element silicon. We usually get it with our food, but the element also occurs in drinking water of natural origin: it is usually contained in a combination of sodium salt and metasilicon acid. However, one should be extremely careful with microelements: a deficiency could lead to illness, but an overdose could also have negative effects.

Scientists from the Baltic Federal University Immanuel Kant, together with colleagues from the Chuvash State University and the Medical University of Hamburg, examined the effects of prolonged silicon consumption in relatively low doses. They experimented on laboratory rats and mice. The animals were given water containing sodium metasilicate, one of the most common silicon compounds, for several months. The concentration was ten milligrams per liter.

In the first phase of their experiment, the researchers took lung tissue samples from rats and mice two and three months after the introduction of silicon-contaminated water and found no pathological changes. Then they decided to triple the influence time. Nine months later, the results were very different – the animals’ health deteriorated significantly. Their weight was halved, and the animals showed signs of pulmonary fibrosis (the transformation of functional tissue into non-functional connective tissue) and deformation of the bronchial tree with varying degrees of severity. The epithelial walls between their alveoli were so depleted that in some cases they joined together and the total number and diameter of the alveoli decreased. Histological studies showed the presence of giant multinucleated Pirogov-Langhans cells, which are common in tuberculosis and other serious lung diseases.

Remarkably, the negative effects on the animals from the first phase of the experiment occurred six months after the transfer of silicon-contaminated water to clean water. Zones of increased density developed in their lungs and along the bronchial trees. High levels of lymphocytes (the main cells of the immune system) in these areas suggested inflammation.

“What we saw in our experiment with rats and mice was very similar to silicosis, a chronic occupational disease that mainly affects miners and foundry workers. Constant use of silicon, whether in water or supplements, may seem safe at first, although the damage increases imperceptibly. Research like this has been going on for years and is intended to form an evidence base. The results are already included in the micro-element supplement guidelines, which means we are actively changing the minds of the scientific community. Perhaps, lovers of ‘miracle pills’ would be next, “remarked research director Valentina Gordova, candidate for medical sciences and assistant professor at the Department of Basic Medicine at the Immanuel Kant Institute for Medicine.

Transforming lung cells critical to pulmonary fibrosis

More information:
Valentina Gordova et al., The Influence of Silicon Consumption with Drinking Water on Morphological Changes in Rodent Lungs, The FASEB Journal (2021). DOI: 10.1096 / fasebj.2021.35.S1.01634

Provided by Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

Quote: Silicon in drinking water caused irreversible lung diseases in rodents (2021, July 15), accessed on July 22, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-silicon-irreversible-lung-pathologies-rodents.html

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