The study conducted at Marshall have
demonstrated that nanoparticles of cerium oxide, common diesel fuel additives
used to increase the fuel efficiency of automobile engines, can travel from the
lungs to the liver and that this process is associated with liver damage.
data done in a study by Eric Blough and colleagues at Marshall’s Center for
Diagnostic Nanosystems indicate there is an increase in the amount of cerium in
the liver of animals that had been exposed to nanoparticles. The increases in
cerium were associated with elevations of liver enzymes in the blood.
“As more and more materials are
beginning to incorporate these nanoparticles we think that it is important to
try to determine if these materials have effects on the environment or on
physiology, so this is a first study to look at the potential toxicity of
cerium oxide nanoparticles on the liver,” Blough said.
The research was published in the
October 13 issue of the peer reviewed research journal
International Journal of Nano medicine. Cerium oxide is widely used as a
polishing agent for glass mirrors, television tubes and ophthalmic lenses. Some
studies have found that cerium oxide nanoparticles may also be capable of
acting as antioxidants, leading researchers to suggest these particles may also
be useful in treatment of cardiovascular disease, and among other things, radiation-induced
Blough says it’s important for the
public to realize the harmful side of the nanoparticles. Blough’s team is also
looking at the how nanoparticles could be used as medicines. Blough believes with
the correct dosage nanoparticles can be beneficial.
“With any kind of drug or new medical
intervention, it’s important to look at both ends of the spectrum, the
therapeutic end and also the toxicity end and that’s what this study is doing.
The center for diagnostic nanosystems is centered on developing nanotechnology
for the treatment for chronic disease,” Blough said.
Siva Nalabotu, is the study’s lead
author and a Ph.D. student in Blough’s lab. He says looking at the effects on
the liver of these nanoparticles is different from other research that looks at the effects
on the lungs.
“There are not many studies to look at
how they’re interacting with various other organ systems in the body so that’s
what we wanted to look at the toxic effects on the liver, so that’s why we did
this study,” Nalabotu said.
John Maher is the Vice President of
Research at Marshall. He says the research being done on how nanoparticles both
positively and negatively affect the body is crucial.
“This is a very responsible and well
thought out approach to taking a look at the overall cost and benefit of employing
this type of technology in an animal system, what does it do for the animal and
what harm comes to the animal from using it,” Maher said.
Maher says nanomaterials are the next
step in today’s science.
“His sort of global approach, sort of
advance approach to looking at all of this is extremely important, because he’s
getting a full picture of what will this technology do for the organism and
what will it do to the organism that we need to be aware of,” Maher said.
The research was supported with funding
from the U.S. Department of Energy.