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Potential toxicity and safety evaluation of nanomaterials for the respiratory system and lung cancer

Authors Vlachogianni T, Fiotakis K, Loridas S, Perdicaris S, Valavanidis A

Received 30 August 2013

Accepted for publication 30 September 2013

Published 27 November 2013 Volume 2013:4 Pages 71—82

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/LCTT.S23216

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5


Thomais Vlachogianni,1 Konstantinos Fiotakis,1 Spyridon Loridas,1 Stamatis Perdicaris,2 Athanasios Valavanidis1

1Department of Chemistry, Free Radicals Research Group, 2Faculty of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacognosy and Natural Product Chemistry, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Abstract: Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are a diverse group of materials finding increasing use in manufacturing, computing, food, pharmaceuticals, and biomedicine due to their very small size and exceptional properties. Health and safety concerns for ENMs have forced regulatory agencies to consider preventive measures and regulations for workers’ health and safety protection. Respiratory system toxicity from inhalable ENMs is the most important concern to health specialists. In this review, we focus on similarities and differences between conventional microparticles (diameters in mm and µm), which have been previously studied, and nanoparticles (sizes between 1 and 100 nm) in terms of size, composition, and mechanisms of action in biological systems. In past decades, respirable particulate matter (PM), asbestos fibers, crystalline silicate, and various amorphous dusts have been studied, and epidemiological evidence has shown how dangerous they are to human health, especially from exposure in working environments. Scientific evidence has shown that there is a close connection between respirable PM and pulmonary oxidative stress through the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). There is a close connection between oxidative stress in the cell and the elicitation of an inflammatory response via pro-inflammatory gene transcription. Inflammatory processes increase the risk for lung cancer. Studies in vitro and in vivo in the last decade have shown that engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) at various doses can cause ROS generation, oxidative stress, and pro-inflammatory gene expression in the cell. It is assumed that ENPs have the potential to cause acute respiratory diseases and probably lung cancer in humans. The situation regarding chronic exposure at low doses is more complicated. The long-term accumulation of ENPs in the respiratory system cannot be excluded. However, at present, exposure data for the general public regarding ENPs are not available.

Keywords: engineered nanomaterials, nanoparticles, oxidative stress, inflammation, safety evaluation, respiratory diseases

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