Acute and long-term in vitro effects of zinc oxide nanoparticles

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© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Since most of the toxic studies of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs) focused on acute and high-dose exposure conditions, the aim of the present study was to fill the existing knowledge gap of long-term effects of ZnO NPs at sub-toxic doses. To overcome this point, we have evaluated the toxic, genotoxic, and carcinogenic effects of ZnO NPs under long-term treatments (12 weeks), using a sub-toxic dose (1 µg/mL) according to acute 48-h exposure. Preliminarily, oxidative stress and genotoxic/oxidative DNA damage were determined under acute exposure and high-dose conditions. To determine the role of oxidative DNA damage, a wild-type mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF Ogg1+/+) and its isogenic 8-oxo-guanine DNA glycosylase 1 (Ogg1) knockout partner (MEF Ogg1−/−) cell lines were used. Although short-term exposure (24-h) experiments demonstrated that ZnO NPs were able to induce ROS, genotoxicity, and oxidative DNA damage in both cell lines, no effects were obtained under long-term exposure scenario. Thus, 1 µg/mL exposure over 12 weeks was unable to induce genotoxicity as well as cellular transformation in both cell types, as indicated by the lack of observed morphological cell changes, variations in the secretion of matrix metalloproteinases, and anchorage-independent cell growth ability, regarded as cancer-like phenotypic hallmarks. Our results indicate that short-term effects of ZnO NP exposure are not replicated under long-term and sub-toxic dose conditions. All together, the lack of genotoxic/carcinogenic effects after chronic treatments seem to indicate a reduced risk associated with ZnO NP exposure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2201-2213
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • Genotoxic/carcinogenic effects
  • Long-term exposures
  • Zinc oxide nanoparticles


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