Mechanism of oxidative stress involved in the toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles against eukaryotic cells

Document Type: Review Paper


1 Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Cell and Molecular Biotechnology Research Group, Institute of Biotechnology, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran



ZnO NPs (zinc oxide nanoparticles) has generated significant scientific interest as a novel antibacterial and anticancer agent. Since oxidative stress is a critical determinant of ZnO NPs-induced damage, it is necessary to characterize their underlying mode of action. Different structural and physicochemical properties of ZnO NPs such as particle surface, size, shape, crystal structure, chemical position, and presence of metals can lead to changes in biological activities including ROS (reactive oxygen species) production. However, there are some inconsistencies in the literature on the relation between the physicochemical features of ZnO NPs and their plausible oxidative stress mechanism. Herein, the possible oxidative stress mechanism of ZnO NPs was reviewed. This is worthy of further detailed evaluations in order to improve our understanding of vital NPs characteristics governing their toxicity. Therefore, this study focuses on the different reported oxidative stress paradigms induced by ZnO NPs including ROS generated by NPs, oxidative stress due to the NPs-cell interaction, and role of the particle dissolution in the oxidative damage. Also, this study tries to characterize and understand the multiple pathways involved in oxidative stress induced by ZnO NPs. Knowledge about different cellular signaling cascades stimulated by ZnO NPs lead to the better interpretation of the toxic influences induced by the cellular and acellular parameters. Regarding the potential benefits of toxic effects of ZnO NPs, in-depth evaluation of their toxicity mechanism and various effects of these nanoparticles would facilitate their implementation for biomedical applications.


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