In the aqueous environment of the human organism, zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles dissolve partly or completely releasing zinc ions. This process of dissolution, however, is not equally efficient for the different particles and depends, moreover, on the exact composition of the aqueous solution. Hence, the stability of the nanoparticles in the respective environment seems to decide on the uptake by the cells of either ZnO particles or dissolved zinc ions.


In the literature, one therefore finds both studies describing the uptake of ZnO particles in the cell [1,2,3] and studies where particles are not reported [4,5]. Uptake of particulate ZnO followed by dissolution in the cell is expected to cause very high local concentrations of zinc ions accompanied by nanoparticle-specific reactions.


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  1. Xia, T et al. (2008), ACS Nano, 2(10): 2121-2134.
  2. Lin, WS et al. (2009), J Nanopart Res, 11(1): 25-39.
  3. Kocbek, P et al. (2010), Small, 6(17): 1908-1917.
  4. De Berardis, B et al. (2010), Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 246(3): 116-127.
  5. Deng, X et al. (2009), Nanotechnology, 20(11): 115101.



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