International journal of nanomedicine

Role of surface modification in zinc oxide nanoparticles and its toxicity assessment toward human dermal fibroblast cells.

PMID 25143723


The wide-scale applications of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles (NPs) in photocatalysts, gas sensors, and cosmetics may cause toxicity to humans and environments. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to reduce the toxicity of ZnO NPs by coating them with a silica (SiO2) layer, which could be used in human applications, such as cosmetic preparations. The sol-gel method was used to synthesize core ZnO with SiO2-shelled NPs (SiO2/ZnO NPs) with varying degrees of coating. Diverse studies were performed to analyze the toxicity of NPs against cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. To ensure the decreased toxicity of the produced SiO2/ZnO NPs, cytotoxicity in membrane damage and/or intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) were assessed by employing 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide, lactate dehydrogenase, 2',7'-dichlorofluorescin, and lipid peroxide estimations. The cores of ZnO NPs exhibited cytotoxicity over time, regardless of shell thickness. Nevertheless, the thicker SiO2/ZnO NPs revealed reduced enzyme leakage, decreased peroxide production, and less oxidative stress than their bare ZnO NPs or thinner SiO2/ZnO NPs. Therefore, thicker SiO2/ZnO NPs moderated the toxicity of ZnO NPs by restricting free radical formation and the release of zinc ions, and decreasing surface contact with cells.