Human exposure to metal nanoparticles such as silver (Ag), copper (Cu) or aluminum (Al) is very common at work places involving automobile, aerospace industry, gun factories or defense related explosives making. Additional sources of exposure to engineered nanoparticles affecting human health are chemical, electronics and communication industries. The nanoparticles (ca. 20 to 120 nm) easily enter the body through inhalation and are deposited into various tissues and organs including brain, where they could stay there for long periods of time. However, the pathophysiological reactions of nanoparticles in vivo on brain function are still not well known. Previous observations from our laboratory showed that engineered nanoparticles from Ag, Cu or Al (50-60 nm) when administered through systemic or intracerebral routes in rats or mice induce neurotoxicity depending on their type, dose and duration of the exposure. These nanoparticles also altered sensory, motor and cognitive functions at the time of development of brain pathologies. Thus, neuronal, glial, axonal and endothelial cell damages are most pronounced following Ag and Cu intoxication as compared to Al in identical doses that are more pronounced in mice as compared to rats of similar age group. The functional significance of these findings and the probable mechanisms of metal nanoparticle-induced neurotoxicity are discussed in this review largely based on our own investigations.
Keywords: Engineered nanoparticles, silver, copper, aluminum, blood-brain barrier, brain edema, cerebral blood flow, neuropathology, astrocytes, myelin, sensory-motor functions, cognitive functions, brain pathology
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