Amorphous silica nanoparticle-induced pulmonary inflammatory response depends on particle size and is sex-specific in rats

Hyoung Yun Han, Jae Woo Cho, Eunsol Seong, Eun Jun Park, Gwang Hee Lee, Dong Wan Kim, Young Su Yang, Jung Hwa Oh, Seokjoo Yoon, Tae Geol Lee, Tae Won Kim, Eun Jung Park

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Due to mass production and extensive use, the potential adverse health effects of amorphous silica nanoparticles (ASiNPs) have received a significant attention from the public and researchers. However, the relationship between physicochemical properties of ASiNPs and their health effects is still unclear. In this study, we manufactured two types of ASiNPs of different diameters (20 and 50 nm) and compared the toxic response induced in rats after intratracheal instillation (75, 150 or 300 μg/rat). There were no dose-related differences in mortality, body weight gain or organ weight between the groups. However both types of ASiNPs significantly decreased the proportion of neutrophils in male rats, whereas the levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit were markedly reduced only in female rats instilled with 20 nm-ASiNPs. ASiNPs-induced lung tissue damage seemed to be more evident in the 20 nm ASiNP-treated group and in female rats than male rats. Similarly, expression of caveolin-1 and matrix metalloproteinase-9 seemed to be most notably enhanced in female rats treated with 20 nm-ASiNPs. The total number of bronchial alveolar lavage cells significantly increased in rats instilled with 20 nm-ASiNPs, accompanying a decrease in the proportion of macrophages and an increase in polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Moreover, secretion of inflammatory mediators clearly increased in human bronchial epithelial cells treated with 20 nm-ASiNPs, but not in those treated with 50 nm-ASiNPs. These results suggest that pulmonary effects of ASiNPs depend on particle size. Sex-dependent differences should also be carefully considered in understanding nanomaterial-induced adverse health effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114890
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 1


  • Amorphous silica nanoparticles
  • Inhalation
  • Matrix metalloproteinase
  • Sex
  • Size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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