Nanoparticles in the lungs of old mice: Pulmonary inflammation and oxidative stress without procoagulant effects

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Dec 10;644:907-915. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.06.301. Epub 2018 Jul 11.


Pulmonary exposure to nanoparticles (NPs) has been shown to induce pulmonary as well as cardiovascular toxicity. These effects might be enhanced in elderly subjects as a result of a compromised immunity and/or declined organ functions. To study the adverse in vivo effects of NPs in a model for the elderly, we exposed 18-month-old C75Bl/6 mice to multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) or ZnO NPs by intratracheal instillation once a week during 5 consecutive weeks. Pulmonary and hemostatic toxicity was determined 24 h (T1) and 8 weeks (T2) after the last administration. Both NP types significantly increased the pulmonary macrophages at both time points. The MWCNTs and ZnO NPs also induced a pulmonary influx of neutrophils, which was even larger at T2 compared to T1. All NPs induced only a modest increase of pulmonary IL-1β, IL-6 and KC levels. Both types of NPs also increased blood neutrophils. Red blood cells were not significantly affected. Both NPs significantly increased coagulation factor VIII levels at both time points. Histological analysis revealed the presence of MWCNTs in the alveolar macrophages up to 8 weeks after the last administration and the ZnO NPs induced a pronounced alveolar inflammation. In these 18-month-old mice, NPs caused pulmonary inflammation (without evidence of oxidative stress) accompanied by large increases in coagulation factor VIII up to 8 weeks after the last NP exposure. The persistence of the MWCNTs in the lungs resulted in translocation from the lungs to the left heart and the ZnO NPs induced a fibrosis-like pathology.

Keywords: Fibrosis; Hemostasis parameters; Old mice; Oxidative stress; Pulmonary inflammation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Lung
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles / toxicity
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Pneumonia / chemically induced*
  • Toxicity Tests


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Nanotubes, Carbon