Acute toxicity of nano- and micro-scale zinc powder in healthy adult mice

Bing Wang, Wei Yue Feng, Tian Cheng Wang, Guang Jia, Meng Wang, Jun Wen Shi, Fang Zhang, Yu Liang Zhao, Zhi Fang Chai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

278 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the acute toxicity of oral exposure to nanoscale zinc powder in mice. The healthy adult male and female mice were gastrointestinally administered at a dose of 5 g/kg body weight with two size particles, nanoscale zinc (N-Zn) and microscale zinc (M-Zn) powder, while one group mice treated with sodium carboxy methyl cellulose was used as the control. The symptoms and mortality after zinc powder treatment were recorded. The effects of particles on the blood-element, the serum biochemical level and the blood coagulation were studied after 2 weeks of administration. The organs were collected for histopathological examination. The N-Zn treated mice showed more severe symptoms of lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea in the beginning days than the M-Zn mice. Deaths of two mice occurred in the N-Zn group after the first week of treatment. The mortalities were confirmed by intestinal obstruction of the nanoscale zinc aggregation. The biochemical liver function tests of serum showed significantly elevated ALT, AST, ALP, and LDH in the M-Zn mice and ALT, ALP, and LDH in the N-Zn mice compared with the controls (P < 0.05), which indicated that the liver damage was probably induced by both micro- and nano-scale zinc powders. The clinical changes were observed in the two treated group mice as well. The levels of the above enzymes were generally higher in the M-Zn mice than in the N-Zn mice, which implied that M-Zn powder could induce more severe liver damage than N-Zn. The biochemical renal function tests of serum BUN and CR in the M-Zn mice markedly increased either compared with the N-Zn mice or with the controls (P < 0.05), but no significant difference was found between the N-Zn and the control mice. However, severe renal lesions were found by the renal histopathological examination in the N-Zn exposed mice. Therefore, we concluded that severe renal damage could occur in the N-Zn treated mice, though no significant change of blood biochemical levels occurred. Blood-element test showed that in the N-Zn mice, PLT and RDW-CV significantly increased, and HGB and HCT significantly decreased compared to the controls, which indicated that N-Zn powder could cause severe anemia. Besides the pathological lesions in the liver, renal, and heart tissue, only slight stomach and intestinal inflammation was found in all the zinc treated mice, without significant pathological changes in other organs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2006


  • Acute toxicity
  • Mice
  • Microscale zinc powder
  • Nanoscale zinc powder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'Acute toxicity of nano- and micro-scale zinc powder in healthy adult mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this