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Cytotoxic effects of ZnO nanoparticles on mouse testicular cells

Authors Han Z, Yan Q, Ge W, Liu ZG, Gurunathan S, De Felici M, Shen W, Zhang XF

Received 26 April 2016

Accepted for publication 11 July 2016

Published 11 October 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 5187—5203


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang

Zhe Han,1,* Qi Yan,1,* Wei Ge,2 Zhi-Guo Liu,1 Sangiliyandi Gurunathan,3 Massimo De Felici,4 Wei Shen,2 Xi-Feng Zhang1

1College of Biological and Pharmaceutical Engineering, Wuhan Polytechnic University, Wuhan, People’s Republic of China; 2Key Laboratory of Animal Reproduction and Germplasm Enhancement in Universities of Shandong, College of Animal Science and Technology, Qingdao Agricultural University, Qingdao, People’s Republic of China; 3Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Konkuk University, Seoul, Republic of Korea; 4Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Rome, Italy

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Nanoscience and nanotechnology are developing rapidly, and the applications of nanoparticles (NPs) have been found in several fields. At present, NPs are widely used in traditional consumer and industrial products, however, the properties and safety of NPs are still unclear and there are concerns about their potential environmental and health effects. The aim of the present study was to investigate the potential toxicity of ZnO NPs on testicular cells using both in vitro and in vivo systems in a mouse experimental model.
Methods: ZnO NPs with a crystalline size of 70 nm were characterized with various analytical techniques, including ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy. The cytotoxicity of the ZnO NPs was examined in vitro on Leydig cell and Sertoli cell lines, and in vivo on the testes of CD1 mice injected with single doses of ZnO NPs.
Results: ZnO NPs were internalized by Leydig cells and Sertoli cells, and this resulted in cytotoxicity in a time- and dose-dependent manner through the induction of apoptosis. Apoptosis likely occurred as a consequence of DNA damage (detected as γ-H2AX and RAD51 foci) caused by increase in reactive oxygen species associated with loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. In addition, injection of ZnO NPs in male mice caused structural alterations in the seminiferous epithelium and sperm abnormalities.
Conclusion: These results demonstrate that ZnO NPs have the potential to induce apoptosis in testicular cells likely through DNA damage caused by reactive oxygen species, with possible adverse consequences for spermatogenesis and therefore, male fertility. This suggests that evaluating the potential impacts of engineered NPs is essential prior to their mass production, to address both the environmental and human health concerns and also to develop sustainable and safer nanomaterials.

Keywords: ZnO nanoparticle, Sertoli cells, Leydig cells, mice

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