The effect of the inhalation of and topical exposure to zinc oxide nanoparticles on airway inflammation in mice


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Abstract

Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnONPs) are widely used in the manufacturing of many commercial products. Workers exposed to ZnO particles may develop metal fume fever. Our previous study suggested that the oropharyngeal aspiration of ZnONPs could cause eosinophilic airway inflammation and increase T helper 2 (Th2) cytokine expression in the absence of allergens in mice. ZnO has been used topically as a sunscreen and a therapeutic agent for dermatological conditions. To understand whether inhalation and topically applied ZnONPs might cause or exert an adjuvant effect on the development of allergic airway inflammation in mice, C57BL/6 J mice were exposed to filtered air or 2.5 mg/m3 ZnONPs via whole-body inhalation for 5 h a day over 5 days, and BALB/c mice were topically exposed to ZnONPs using modified mouse models of atopic dermatitis (AD) and asthma. Ovalbumin (OVA) solution was used as an allergen in the topical exposure experiments. A significantly increased eosinophil count and mixed Th1/Th2 cytokine expression were detected in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) after ZnONP inhalation. However, only mild eosinophilia and low Th2 cytokine expression were detected in the BALF after oropharyngeal OVA aspiration in the high-dose ZnONP topical treatment group. These results suggest that ZnONP inhalation might play a role in the development of allergic airway inflammation in mice. However, topically applied ZnONPs only play a limited role in the development of allergic airway inflammation in mice.HighlightsFew inhalation exposure studies revealed the effect of ZnONP on airway inflammation.Workplace-relevant ZnONP inhalation induced eosinophilic airway inflammation.Topically applied ZnONP did not induce airway inflammation in mice.

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