Deciphering the particle specific effects on metabolism in rat liver and plasma from ZnO nanoparticles versus ionic Zn exposure

Zhiling Guo, Yali Luo, Peng Zhang, Andrew J. Chetwynd, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Wunqun Tao, Changjian Xie, Yiyun Liu, Sherry Li Xu, Zhiyong Zhang, Eugenia Valsami-jones, Iseult Lynch, Bin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) are often related to the release of Zn 2+ ions due to their dissolution. Studies also suggest that the toxicity of ZnO NPs cannot be solely explained by the release of Zn 2+ ions; however, there is a lack of direct evidence of ZnO particulate effects. This study compared the acute toxicity of ZnO NPs and ZnSO 4 following intranasal exposure using a combination of metallomics and metabolomics approaches. Significant accumulation of Zn in the liver was only found in the ZnO NP treatment, with 29% of the newly accumulated Zn in the form of ZnO as revealed by X-ray fine structure spectroscopy (XAFS). This is the first direct evidence suggesting the persistence of ZnO NPs in liver upon intranasal exposure. Although both ZnO NPs and ZnSO 4 altered the metabolite profiles, with some overlaps and considerable specificity, of both liver and plasma samples, more and distinct metabolites in the liver and opposite effects in the plasma were altered by ZnO NPs compared with ZnSO 4, consistent with no accumulation of Zn detected in liver from ZnSO 4. Specifically, a large number of antioxidant-related compounds and energetic substrates were exclusively elevated in the liver of ZnO NP-treated animals. These findings provided direct evidence that persistence of ZnO NPs induced particle-specific effects on the antioxidant systems and energy metabolism pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105437
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date24 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Energy metabolism, oxidative stress
  • Metabolite profile
  • Zinc ions
  • Zinc oxide nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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