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A comparative study of lung toxicity in rats induced by three types of nanomaterials

Zhiqing Lin1, Li Ma2, Zhu-ge X1*, Huashan Zhang1 and Bencheng Lin1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Health and Environmental Medicine, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Tianjin 300050, People's Republic of China

2 The Third People's Hospital of Datong, Datong, Shanxi Province 037008, People's Republic of China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2013, 8:521  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-521

Published: 9 December 2013


The public is increasingly exposed to various engineered nanomaterials because of their mass production and wide application. Even when the biological effects of nanomaterials have been assessed, the underlying mechanisms of action in vivo are poorly understood. The present study was designed to seek a simple, effective, and oxidative stress-based biomarker system used for screening toxicity of nanomaterials. Nano-ferroso-ferric oxide (nano-Fe3O4), nano-silicon dioxide (nano-SiO2), and single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) were dispersed in corn oil and characterized using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Rats were exposed to the three nanomaterials by intratracheal instillation once every 2 days for 5 weeks. We investigated their lung oxidative and inflammatory damage by bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) detection and comparative proteomics by lung tissue. Two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) of proteins isolated from the lung tissue, followed by matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry, was performed. In the present study, we chose to detect lactate dehydrogenase, total antioxidant capacity, superoxide dismutase, and malondialdehyde as the biomarker system for screening the oxidative stress of nanomaterials and IL-6 as the inflammatory biomarker in BALF. Proteomics analysis revealed 17 differentially expressed proteins compared with the control group: nine were upregulated and eight were downregulated. Our results indicated that exposure by intratracheal instillation to any of the three typical nanomaterials may cause lung damage through oxidative damage and/or an inflammatory reaction.

SWCNTs; Nano-Fe3O4; Nano-SiO2; BALF; Comparative proteomics analysis; Lung toxicity