A comprehensive toxicity study of zinc oxide nanoparticles versus their bulk in Wistar rats: Toxicity study of zinc oxide nanoparticles

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2016 Dec;35(12):1286-1304. doi: 10.1177/0960327116629530. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


The purpose of this study was to characterize the zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) and their bulk counterpart in suspensions and to access the impact of their acute oral toxicity at doses of 300 and 2000 mg/kg in healthy female Wistar rats. The hematological, biochemical, and urine parameters were accessed at 24 and 48 h and 14 days posttreatment. The histopathological evaluations of tissues were also performed. The distribution of zinc content in liver, kidney, spleen, plasma, and excretory materials (feces and urine) at 24 and 48 h and 14 days posttreatment were accessed after a single exposure at dose of 2000 mg/kg body weight. The elevated level of alanine amino transferase, alkaline phosphatase, lactate dehydrogenase, and creatinine were observed in ZnO-NPs at a dose of 2000 mg/kg at all time points. There was a decrease in iron levels in all the treated groups at 24 h posttreatment as compared to control groups but returned to their normal level at 14 days posttreatment. The hematological parameters red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelets, and haptoglobin were reduced at 48 h posttreatment at a dose of 2000 mg/kg ZnO-NPs and showed hemolytic condition. All the treated groups were comparable to control group at the end of 14 days posttreatment. The zinc concentration in the kidney, liver, plasma, feces, and urine showed a significant increase in both groups as compared to control. This study explained that ZnO-NPs produced more toxicological effect as compared to their bulk particles as evidenced through alteration in some hemato-biochemical parameters and with few histopathological lesions in liver and kidney tissues.

Keywords: Nanotoxicology; ZnO; clinical chemistry; pathology; toxicity testing.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanoparticles / toxicity*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Particle Size
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Surface Properties
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute / methods*
  • Zinc Oxide / blood
  • Zinc Oxide / chemistry
  • Zinc Oxide / toxicity*
  • Zinc Oxide / urine


  • Zinc Oxide