Effects of zinc oxide nanoparticles on gene expression profile in human keratinocytes

Seung Ho Lee, Jae Eun Pie, Yu Ri Kim, Hee Ra Lee, Sang Wook Son, Meyoung Kon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticle is added in various materials and products such as paints, plastics, ceramics, glass, rubber, pigments and sunscreen. Especially, ZnO nanoparticles are widely used in UV protection, because of their property of absorption ultraviolet light. Despite the widespread use of ZnO nanoparticles, there are many unknowns in understanding on their nanotoxicity and mechanisms. In this study, we evaluated the effects of ZnO nanoparticles on gene expression pattern of human keratinocyte cells. Total RNA was prepared from the exposure groups to ZnO nanoparticles with different surface charge, and cDNA microarray was performed using Agilent human whole genome array. Our study indicated that genes related to apoptosis and response to stress including heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX1), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPX), BNIP3L (adenovirus E1B 19 kDa interacting protein 3) and heat shock 70 kDa protein (HSP70) were upand down-regulated in ZnO nanoparticles treated cells. Moreover, our results showed that ZnO nanoparticles induced intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress. Antioxidant enzyme SOD levels were significantly higher and GSH levels were decreased in ZnO nanoparticles-exposed cells, respectively. The present study showed that up-regulation of these genes by ZnO nanoparticles could increase the production of ROS and oxidative stress. Therefore, ZnO nanoparticles could have a potential to product ROS through the perturbation of metabolic pathway, inducing oxidative stress. It also supported that the nanotoxicity mechanism could correlate with the active oxygen production, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and antioxidant defense mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-118
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular and Cellular Toxicology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun


  • Antioxidant defense
  • CDNA microarray
  • Keratinocyte
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Zinc oxide nanoparticle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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