Int. J. Environ. Res.

Public Health 2004, 1(2), 106–110

International Journal of
Environmental Research and Public Health
ISSN 1660-4601
© 2004 by MDPI

Investigation into the Nephrotoxicity of Nigerian Bonny Light Crude Oil
in Albino Rats
O. E. Orisakwe1*, A. A. Njan2, O. J. Afonne1, Akumka D. D2, V. N. Orish1, O. O. Udemezue3
Toxicology Unit, Department of Pharmacology, College of Health Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus,
P.M.B 5001, Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria.
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Idu,
Abuja, Nigeria,
Department of Anatomy, College of Health Sciences, Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria
*Correspondence to Dr. Orish Ebere Orisakwe. E-mail:

Received: 21 December 2003 / Accepted: 18 May 2004 / Published: 30 September 2004

Abstract: The effect of bonny-light crude oil was assessed in adult albino rats. The rats were administered
with 200, 400, and 800mg/kg body weight of the crude oil orally for 7 days. Fluid intake was measured daily,
initial and final animal body was recorded. The toxic effects on the kidneys were assessed and histological
studies carried out. The results revealed that the kidney cells were damaged; crude oil caused a destruction of
the renal reserve capacity. There was a significant increase (p ≤ 0.05) in creatinine in the high dose group
(800mg/kg), and a significant decrease (p ≤ 0.05) in urea concentration. Histological examination indicates
that crude oil induced severe pathologic changes in the forms of necrosis and oedema.

Key words: bonny light, crude oil, nephrotoxicity

Introduction introduced into the environment. There is a concern that
workers and other individuals exposed to crude oil might
Crude oil has been described as a complex mixture of have an increased incidence of organ damage. After
over 6000 potentially different hydrocarbons and metals absorption via pulmonary or gastrointestinal routes,
[1]. Crude and refined petroleum, and oil field chemicals crude oil is transported in plasma initially bound to
and emissions are highly complex chemical mixtures. albumin and other larger proteins to the liver.
Crude petroleum contains hundreds of compounds and In Nigeria, crude oil is predominantly found in the
the chemical composition varies between geologic riverine areas. Over the years the local population has
formations [2]. used crude oil for various ailments such as
Knowledge of human responses to acute exposures to gastrointestinal disorders, burns, foot rot and leg ulcers,
petroleum components comes from studies with several poisoning and witchcraft. The present study, investigates
solvents containing benzene and petroleum [3]. the renal effect of bonny-light crude oil.
Recognized human biochemical and physiological
responses associated with acute exposures to natural Materials and Methods
crudes are mainly transient and short lived unless the
concentrations of the components are unusually high Matured albino rats weighing between 124-130g
[4]). Pollution implies that a particular level of were obtained from the Animal Facility Center of the
contamination has deleterious effects, which may take Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, National
the form of hazards to human health, interference with Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development,
human activities, reduction of human amenities or Abuja, Nigeria. The animals were acclimated to housing
harmful effect on living resources. Substantial amounts conditions for at least one week prior to commencement
of those potentially toxic substances have been of the experiment. Animals were housed singly at

© 2004 MDPI. All rights reserved.

The control Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (N. wound. The potassium and sodium were estimated using the flame emission spectrophotometer (corning Discussion brand).C. Data 45% of the total hydrocarbons. It is known that lipophilic xenobiotics may have the characteristics of both electron Results uncouplers and energy inhibitors [10]. liver enzymes are usually raised in acute Histopathologists examined the sections. bicarbonate and chloride in the bonny-light were measured daily. less P < 0. J. hyperemia. hepatotoxicity but tend to decrease with prolonged intoxication due to damage to the liver cells. were recorded.05) in serum urea. The three test groups received by gavage for seven The results show a significant increase (p < 0. Nigeria. and serum obtained. folkloric medicine in the Niger-delta area of Nigeria for The animals were then sacrificed under chloroform the treatment of various ailments including stomach up- anaesthesia and the kidneys were harvested. wounds. Environ. 200 mg/kg. with aromatic hydrocarbons accounting for up to The values were reported as means ± SEMs.05) in the the animals. Effect of Bonny light crude oil on body and there was a significant reduction in body weight in relative weights of kidney after 7 days of sub-chronic . Serum potassium. population in folkloric medicine. increasing in terms of the environmental levels. bicarbonate and chloride were measured by the application to body. while Duncan’s hydrocarbons are relatively soluble in water [9].N. There was control.Int. dark cycle. and sodium. Titrimetric method of Schales widened capsules with severely degenerated glomeruli and Schales (1941) [5] was used for the determination of and noticeable necrosis. a congestion caused intraglomerular space At the end of the seven days exposure period. and burns [8]. There was no significant difference in the mean losing sufficient function to modify the normal clinical fluid intake between the three dose levels. absolute and relative kidney weights of the animals in Animals were divided into 4 groups of 5 male rats the three experimental groups. Res. Food and fluid intake sodium.P. cell embedded in paraffin wax. Water and food were provided ad libitum for There were no significant differences (p ≥ 0. water–soluble crude oils. 400 mg/kg and 800 mg/kg while the 4th whereas there was significant increase in potasium in the group received a solution of Tween 80 in water only as 200 and 400mg/kg crude oil treated groups. fluid intake. Public Health 2004.g. The Statistical Analysis Nigerian Bonny crude oils are classified as light crude oils. The sections were stained by cytoplasmic enzymes in the blood. of kidney after 7 days of sub-chronic exposure to male The kidney can suffer considerable damage before rats. Creatinine was determined using the method Exposure of humans and animal to crude oil. The animals indication of renal disease such as the serum creatinine demonstrated a progressive increase in body weight in concentration [11]. weighed and set.05) in days freshly prepared Bonny light crude oil at doses of serum creatinine in the 800mg/kg crude oil group. In several organs. adverse toxic effects is higher than for heavier. England) at 589 degenerated. The histological changes of kidney in the different Nigerian bonny-light crude oil was obtained from treatment groups are shown in Figures 1. may be toxic. Sodium and potassium the tuft and the capsule in the medium dose crude oil in serum were determined with Corning 410C clinical group. Urea was analysed spectrophotometrically at 525nm [6]. The bonny crude oil produced slightly congested glomeruli and light crude oil was dissolved in Tween 80. Since a large proportion of the crude oil components is lipophilic in Table 1 shows the effect of Bonny light crude oil on nature biological membrane may be the target sites body weight.) group showed normal histological structure. Spain). The glomeruli appeared animals were weighed and sacrificed under chloroform infiltrated and congested creating wider spaces between anesthesia. Crude oil is used in use of commercial kits (Biosystem. the between the tuft and capsule. absolute and relative weights where adverse effects occur. 1 107 ambient temperature of 23 ± 30 C and a 12 h light. and examined provides the basis for clinical diagnosis of heart and liver and photographed by using a light microscope. These doses were based on that used by the local also a significant decrease (p < 0. each. The high dose group showed empty and and 768nm respectively. The route of administration is fixed in 10% buffered formalin for 48 hrs. 12 h the high dose group (800mg/kg) compared to the control. Also in this group some of the glomeruli appeared flame photometer (Corning Instruments. As aromatic were analyzed using the Student’s t-test. The final body weights of the rats treated group when compared with the control (Table 2). Low dose Research Laboratory Port Harcourt. chloride.4. which is of Taussky 1956 [7] at 520 nm. and sections (5µm thick) cut damage is followed by increased levels of a number of using a rotary microtome. it is multiple-range test was used to test for differences expected that the potential of this light crude oil to have between treatment groups using Sigma-stat 2. independently. a phenomenon that haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) method. Approximately 50% or more of renal the control and lower doses during the exposure period Table 1. mainly heart and liver.0 software. Two diseases e.05 was considered statistically significant. The kidneys mostly oral and external application for burns and were processed using an automatic tissue processor.

0* 143.3 ± 12.7 0.0 ± 2.02 ± 0.0# 21.4 ± 0. Environ.9 1.9) 400 156.1# 400 4.6 ± 1.8* 112.0 ± 0.0 ± 5.1* 23.4 200 5.4 1.16 (124. J.1* 140.5 ± 0.0 ± 8.1* 90.7 ± 2.3 20.2 22. N=5 *Significantly different from control at p < 0.35 ± 4.5 0.05) compared to control.0* 144.1 5.5 26.18 (114.(mmol/l) Na+ (mmol/l) K+ (mol/l) (mmol/l) (mmol/l) (mmol/l) Control 7. *Significantly reduced (p < 0.5* 4.8) Numbers in parenthesis indicate initial body weight of rats.0 ± 2.7 0. Effect of Bonny light crude oil on serum electrolytes.2 95.2) 200 166.67 ± 0.05 †Relative weight = Absolute weight x 100 Final body weight Table 2.108 Int.7 ± 0.1 21.1± 7.6* 1.09 ± 2.2 22.6 ± 3.8* 1.9 ± 0.7* 30. Res.4 145.4 ± 0. Public Health 2004.6 ± 12.3 ± 6.0 ± 2.3 ± 3.0 ± 2.05) compared to control.2 8.39 (113±11.34 (112.7# 800 2.8± 3.1* 134.03 ± 2.2 ± 0. # Significantly increased (p < 0.0 ± 1.2 97.8 ± 0.4 N = 5.2 107.0 ± 0.7 ± 21.6 117.3 ± 0.1 ± 0.0 ± 4. 1 Treatment Final body Absolute kidney Relative kidney Fluid intake Dose (mg/kg) weight (g) weight (g) weight † (%) ml/day/rat Control 180. Treatment Dose (mg/kg) Urea Creatinine HCO3- Cl.4 ± 0.6 ± 1.83 ± 0.2* 1. . urea and creatinine after 7 days of sub-chronic exposure to male rats.3 ± 2.6) 800 136.1 ± 0.89 ± 1.90 ± 0.1 7.7# 94.7± 11.6 ± 3.

This observation seems not to damage.05) differences in aid in the detection of damage by a nephrotoxin and also the absolute and relative kidney weights of the animals allows for the determination of various threshold in the three test groups. Res. Researchers bonny-light treated group when compared with the have reported that absolute kidney weight is a relatively control is suggestive of renal pathology. Photomicrographs of H&E stained sections of rat kidney (Magnification X250). bicarbonate and chloride in the by exposure to the bonny–light crude oil. sodium. increase in serum creatinine and potasium in the treated The absolute and relative kidney weights. The detection of renal damage at a reversible conform with the above definition of toxicity probably stage is necessary before effective preventive measures due to the short duration of the exposure to the bonny- can be taken to halt the progress of damage to the light crude oil.05) irreversible stage. made up of a combination of different types of test can There were no significant (p < 0.05) decreased serum urea. Environ. Public Health 2004.05) decrease in body weight gain were significantly (p < 0. with nephrotoxicity defined as abnormal and disease is detectable clinically. . capacity can be lost before serum creatinine become nephrotoxicants. This in part is in sensitive indicator of nephrotoxicity for known agreement with Kluwe definition of renal toxicity [12]. J. A battery increased kidney weight (absolute or relative) [12].Int. 1 109 A: Control showing normal kidney B: Low dose or 200mg/kg crude oil showing slightly congested glomeruli C: Medium dose or 400mg/kg crude oil showing some D: High dose or 800mg/kg crude oil showing severely degenerated glomeruli degenerated glomeruli Figure 1. as well as groups and also the significant (p < 0. However the significant (p < 0.

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