The inclusion of nanoparticles can increase the quality of certain products. One application is the inclusion of Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles in a glass coating matrix to produce a UV-absorbing coating for glass sheets. Yet, the question is whether the inclusion of ZnO in the matrix induces toxicity at low exposure levels. To test this, mice were given single intratracheal instillation of 1) ZnO powder (ZnO), 2) ZnO in a glass matrix coating in its liquid phase (ZnO-Matrix), and 3) the matrix with no ZnO (Matrix). Doses of ZnO were 0.23, 0.67, and 2 µg ZnO/mouse. ZnO Matrix doses had equal amounts of ZnO, while Matrix was adjusted to have an equal volume of matrix as ZnO Matrix. Post-exposure periods were 1, 3, or 28 d. Endpoints were pulmonary inflammation as bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid cellularity, genotoxicity in lung and liver, measured by comet assay, histopathology of lung and liver, and global gene expression in lung using microarrays. Neutrophil numbers were increased to a similar extent with ZnO and ZnO-Matrix at 1 and 3 d. Only weak genotoxicity without dose-response effects was observed in the lung. Lung histology showed an earlier onset of inflammation in material-exposed groups as compared to controls. Microarray analysis showed a stronger response in terms of the number of differentially regulated genes in ZnO-Matrix exposed mice as compared to Matrix only. Activated canonical pathways included inflammatory and cardiovascular ones. In conclusion, the pulmonary toxicity of ZnO was not changed by formulation in a liquid matrix for glass coating.
Keywords: Zinc oxide; advanced materials; comet assay; gene expression; genotoxicity.