Hemocytes of bivalve mollusks as cellular models in toxicological studies of metals and metal-based nanomaterials

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

9 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Article number120082
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Pollution
Online published31 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022


Understanding the impacts of environmental pollutants on immune systems is indispensable in ecological and health risk assessments due to the significance of normal immunological functions in all living organisms. Bivalves as sentinel organisms with vital ecological importance are widely distributed in aquatic environments and their innate immune systems are the sensitive targets of environmental pollutants. As the central component of innate immunity, bivalve hemocytes are endowed with specialized endolysosomal systems for particle internalization and metal detoxification. These intrinsic biological features make them a unique cellular model for metal- and nano-immunotoxicology research. In this review, we firstly provided a general overview of bivalve's innate immunity and the classification and immune functions of hemocytes. We then summarized the recent progress on the interactions of metals and nanoparticles with bivalve hemocytes, with emphasis on the involvement of hemocytes in metal regulation and detoxification, the interactions of hemocytes and nanoparticles at eco/bio-nano interface and hemocyte-mediated immune responses to the exposure of metals and nanoparticles. Finally, we proposed the key knowledge gaps and future research priorities in deciphering the fundamental biological processes of the interactions of environmental pollutants with the innate immune system of bivalves as well as in developing bivalve hemocytes into a promising cellular model for nano-immuno-safety assessment.

Research Area(s)

  • Bivalves, Hemocytes, Immunity, Metals, Nanoparticles