In vitro toxicity of Lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (LiTFSI) on Human Renal and Hepatoma Cells

Xing Zhang, Mia Sands, Mindy Lin, Jennifer Guelfo, Joseph Irudayaraj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We evaluate the cytotoxicity, intracellular redox conditions, apoptosis, and methylation of DNMTs/TETs upon exposure to LiTFSI, a novel Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) commonly found in lithium-ion batteries, on human renal carcinoma cells (A498) and hepatoma cells (HepG2). The MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5 diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) assay showed both Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (LiTFSI) had a dose-dependent effect on A498 and HepG2, with LiTFSI being less toxic. Intracellular redox conditions were assessed with a microplate reader and confocal, which showed a significant decrease in Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) levels and an increase in Superoxide dismutase (SOD) content in both cells. Exposure to LiTFSI enhanced cell apoptosis, with HepG2 being more susceptible than A498. Quantitative analysis of mRNA expression levels of 19 genes associated with kidney injury, methylation, lipid metabolism and transportation was performed. LiTFSI exposure impacted kidney function by downregulating smooth muscle alpha-actin (Acta2) and upregulating transforming growth factor beta 1 (Tgfb1), B-cell lymphoma 2-like 1) Bcl2l1, hepatitis A virus cellular receptor 1 (Harvcr1), nuclear factor erythroid 2-like 2 (Nfe2l2), and hairy and enhancer of split 1 (Hes1) expression. LiTFSI exposure also affected the abundance of transcripts associated with DNA methylation by the expression of ten-eleven translocation (TET) and DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) genes. Furthermore, LiTFSI exposure induced an increase in lipid anabolism and alterations in lipid catabolism in HepG2. Our results provide new insight on the potential role of a new contaminant, LiTFSI in the regulation of oxidative stress, apoptosis and methylation in human renal carcinoma and hepatoma cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-288
Number of pages9
JournalToxicology Reports
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Apoptosis
  • Cytotoxicity
  • LiTFSI
  • Methylation proteins
  • PFAS
  • ROS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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