Zinc oxide nanoparticle induced age dependent immunotoxicity in BALB/c mice
Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles (NPs) have potential applications in cosmetics, food packaging and biomedicine but concerns regarding their safety need to be addressed. In the present study, the immunotoxic potential of ZnO NPs was evaluated in different ages of BALB/c mice after sub-acute exposure. The cytokine release, immunophenotyping, distribution of ZnO NPs and ultrastructural changes were assessed. A significant (p < 0.05) change in the CD4- and CD8-cells, levels of IL-6, IFN-γ and TNF-α and reactive oxygen species were observed in aged mice. In juvenile mice, increase in reactive oxygen species and IL-6 and TNF-α levels was observed with no significant changes in adult mice. A significant (p < 0.05) increase in the expression levels of mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade proteins such as phospho-ERK1/2, phospho-JNK and phospho-p38 were also induced in aged mice. Collectively, our results indicate that the aged mice are more susceptible to ZnO NP induced immunotoxicity.