Zinc oxide nanoparticles impair bacterial clearance by macrophages

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The extensive development of nanoparticles (NPs) and their widespread employment in daily life have led to an increase in environmental concentrations of substances that may pose a biohazard to humans. The aim of this work was to examine the effects of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) on the host's pulmonary immune system response to nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) infection.

Materials & Methods:

A murine infection model was employed to assess pulmonary inflammation and bacterial clearance in response to exposure to ZnO-NPs. The molecular mechanisms underlying ZnO-NP-impaired macrophage activation were investigated.


Treatment with ZnO-NPs impaired macrophage activation, leading to a delay in NTHi clearance in the bronchial alveolar lavage fluids and lungs. Exposure to ZnO-NPs followed by NTHi challenge decreased levels of nitric oxide compared with NTHi infection alone. The effects of ZnO-NPs involved downregulation of NTHi-activated expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase and the translocation of active NF-kB into the nucleus.


These results demonstrate that exposure to ZnO-NPs can impair innate immune responses and attenuate macrophage responses to bacterial infection.

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