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Chen CM, Wu ML, Ho YC, Gung PY, Tsai MH, Orekhov AN, Sobenin IA, Lin P, Yet SF.

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 May 13;21(10). pii: E3437. doi: 10.3390/ijms21103437.


Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnONPs) are frequently encountered nanomaterials in our daily lives. Despite the benefits of ZnONPs in a variety of applications, many studies have shown potential health hazards of exposure to ZnONPs. We have shown that oropharyngeal aspiration of ZnONPs in mice increases lung inflammation. However, the detailed mechanisms underlying pulmonary inflammatory cell infiltration remain to be elucidated. Endothelium functions as a barrier between the blood stream and the blood vessel wall. Endothelial barrier dysfunction may increase infiltration of immune cells into the vessel wall and underlying tissues. This current study examined the effects of ZnONPs exposure on endothelial barriers. ZnONPs exposure increased leukocyte infiltration in the mouse lungs. In endothelial cells, ZnONPs reduced the continuity of tight junction proteins claudin-5 and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) at the cell junctions. ZnONPs induced adherens junction protein VE-cadherin internalization from membrane to cytosol and dissociation with β-catenin, leading to reduced and diffused staining of VE-cadherin and β-catenin at cell junctions. Our results demonstrated that ZnONPs disrupted both tight and adherens junctions, compromising the integrity and stability of the junction network, leading to inflammatory cell infiltration. Thus, ZnONPs exposure in many different settings should be carefully evaluated for vascular effects and subsequent health impacts.


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