We analyzed gene expression changes in the lungs and the immunological response in splenocytes of mice exposed by inhalation of ZnO nanoparticles (NP). Adult female ICR mice were treated for three days and three months, respectively. Analysis of differential expression in genes involved in oxidative stress was conducted using quantitative RT-PCR. The potential immunotoxic and immunomodulatory effects of ZnO NP were analyzed by phenotyping and cytokine production by splenocytes after three months exposure. Three days exposure resulted in down-regulation of GCLC, GSR, HMOX-1, NQO-1, NF-kB2, PTGS2 and TXNRD1 mRNA expression; three months exposure increased the expression of these genes. Three months exposure caused a significant decrease in the percentage of granulocytes in the spleen cells, and affected the production of IL-10 and IL-6 by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated leukocytes. In summary, our study revealed changes in the expression of genes involved in the oxidative stress response following acute ZnO NP exposure. Subchronic ZnO NP exposure induced immunomodulatory effects in the spleen.Keywords: Zinc oxide nanoparticles, Inhalation, Gene expression, Immune response
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