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Toxicity and hepatoprotective effects of ZnO nanoparticles on normal and high-fat diet-fed rat livers: mechanism of action

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This experiment aimed to evaluate the beneficial and toxic properties of synthetic zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs) on the liver of normal and high-fat diet (HFD) fed-rats. The ZnO NPs were synthesized and, its characterizations were determined by different techniques. Effect of ZnO NP on cell viability, liver enzymes and lipid accumulation were measured in HepG2 cells after 24 h. After that, rats orally received various dosages of ZnO NPs for period of 4 weeks. Toxicity tests were done to determine the appropriate dose. In the subsequent step, the hepatoprotective effects of 5 mg/kg ZnO NPs were determined in HFD-fed rats (experiment 2). The oxidative stress, NLRP3 inflammasome, inflammatory, and apoptosis pathways were measured. Additionally, the activity of caspase 3, nitric oxide levels, antioxidant capacity, and various biochemical factors were measured. Morphological changes in the rat livers were also evaluated by hematoxylin and eosin (H & E) and Masson trichrome. Liver apoptosis rate was also approved by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assay. Treatment of animals with 5 mg/ZnO NPs revealed potential hepatoprotective properties, while ZnO NPs at the doses of above 10 mg/kg showed toxic effects. Antioxidant enzyme gene expression and activity were significantly augmented, while apoptosis, NLRP3 inflammasome, and inflammation pathways were significantly reduced by 5 mg/kg ZnO NPs. Liver histopathological alterations were restored by 5 mg/kg ZnO NPs in HFD. Our study highlights the hepatoprotective effects of ZnO NPs against the HFD-induced liver damage, involving antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic pathways, indicating their promising therapeutic potential.



Liver NLRP3 inflammasome Nanoparticle Nanomedicine Oxidative stress


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