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01.12.2016 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

Respiratory Research 1/2016

Toxic and adjuvant effects of silica nanoparticles on ovalbumin-induced allergic airway inflammation in mice

Respiratory Research > Ausgabe 1/2016
Heejae Han, Yoon Hee Park, Hye Jung Park, Kangtaek Lee, Kiju Um, Jung-Won Park, Jae-Hyun Lee
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

HH had full access to all of the study data. YHP contributed to the data analysis. JHL, HH, YHP and HJP designed the experiments and wrote the manuscript. KL and KJ synthesized SNPs and performed experimental about SNPs. JWP and JHL helped in the interpretation of the data, and edited and revised the manuscript. All authors participated in data interpretation and final approval of the manuscript.



Silica nanoparticles (SNPs) can easily enter in respiratory system via inhalation because of their low molecular weight and ease of dispersion. Toxicity and adverse effects of SNPs vary according to the physical characteristics of the particle.


To evaluate the toxic and adjuvant effects of 3 types of SNPs in the airway system, six-week-old female BALB/c mice were intranasally administered 3 types of SNPs (spherical [S-SNP], mesoporous [M-SNP], and polyethylene glycol-conjugated [P-SNP]) alone or SNPs/ovalbumin (OVA), three times weekly for 2 weeks. Airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), cytokine levels, and histology of the lungs were analyzed.


The S-SNPs/OVA group and M-SNPs/OVA group showed significant AHR, compared to the control group. Among all SNP-treated groups, the group administered SNPs/OVA showed greater inflammatory cell infiltration in BALF, extensive pathological changes, and higher cytokine levels (IL-5, IL-13, IL-1β, and IFN-γ) than those administered SNPs alone or saline/OVA.


Exposure to SNPs alone and SNPs/OVA induced toxicity in the respiratory system. SNPs alone showed significant toxic effects on the airway system. Meanwhile, SNPs/OVA exerted adjuvant effects to OVA of inducing allergic airway inflammation. In particular, M-SNPs showed the most severe airway inflammation in both direct toxicity and adjuvant effect assays. P-SNPs induced less inflammation than the other types of SNPs in both models.
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