Single-cell transcriptomic analysis reveals the adverse effects of cadmium on the trajectory of neuronal maturation

Bo Song, Yuwei Zhang, Guiya Xiong, Huan Luo, Bing Zhang, Yixi Li, Zhibin Wang, Zhijun Zhou, Xiuli Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cadmium (Cd) is an extensively existing environmental pollutant that has neurotoxic effects. However, the molecular mechanism of Cd on neuronal maturation is unveiled. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) has been widely used to uncover cellular heterogeneity and is a powerful tool to reconstruct the developmental trajectory of neurons. In this study, neural stem cells (NSCs) from subventricular zone (SVZ) of newborn mice were treated with CdCl2 for 24 h and differentiated for 7 days to obtain neuronal lineage cells. Then scRNA-seq analysis identified five cell stages with different maturity in neuronal lineage cells. Our findings revealed that Cd altered the trajectory of maturation of neuronal lineage cells by decreasing the number of cells in different stages and hindering their maturation. Cd induced differential transcriptome expression in different cell subpopulations in a stage-specific manner. Specifically, Cd induced oxidative damage and changed the proportion of cell cycle phases in the early stage of neuronal development. Furthermore, the autocrine and paracrine signals of Wnt5a were downregulated in the low mature neurons in response to Cd. Importantly, activation of Wnt5a effectively rescued the number of neurons and promoted their maturation. Taken together, the findings of this study provide new and comprehensive insights into the adverse effect of Cd on neuronal maturation. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1697-1713
Number of pages17
JournalCell Biology and Toxicology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Cadmium
  • Neuronal maturation
  • Wnt5a
  • scRNA-seq

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology
  • Cell Biology


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