Microsomal glutathione transferase 1 protects against toxicity induced by silica nanoparticles but not by zinc oxide nanoparticles

Jingwen Shi, Hanna L. Karlsson, Katarina Johansson, Vladimir Gogvadze, Lisong Xiao, Jiangtian Li, Terrance Burks, Alfonso Garcia-Bennett, Abdusalam Uheida, Mamoun Muhammed, Sanjay Mathur, Ralf Morgenstern, Valerian E. Kagan, Bengt Fadeel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Microsomal glutathione transferase 1 (MGST1) is an antioxidant enzyme located predominantly in the mitochondrial outer membrane and endoplasmic reticulum and has been shown to protect cells from lipid peroxidation induced by a variety of cytostatic drugs and pro-oxidant stimuli. We hypothesized that MGST1 may also protect against nanomaterial-induced cytotoxicity through a specific effect on lipid peroxidation. We evaluated the induction of cytotoxicity and oxidative stress by TiO 2, CeO 2, SiO 2, and ZnO in the human MCF-7 cell line with or without overexpression of MGST1. SiO 2 and ZnO nanoparticles caused dose- and time-dependent toxicity, whereas no obvious cytotoxic effects were induced by nanoparticles of TiO 2 and CeO 2. We also noted pronounced cytotoxicity for three out of four additional SiO 2 nanoparticles tested. Overexpression of MGST1 reversed the cytotoxicity of the main SiO 2 nanoparticles tested and for one of the supplementary SiO 2 nanoparticles but did not protect cells against ZnO-induced cytotoxic effects. The data point toward a role of lipid peroxidation in SiO 2 nanoparticle-induced cell death. For ZnO nanoparticles, rapid dissolution was observed, and the subsequent interaction of Zn 2+ with cellular targets is likely to contribute to the cytotoxic effects. A direct inhibition of MGST1 by Zn 2+ could provide a possible explanation for the lack of protection against ZnO nanoparticles in this model. Our data also showed that SiO 2 nanoparticle-induced cytotoxicity is mitigated in the presence of serum, potentially through masking of reactive surface groups by serum proteins, whereas ZnO nanoparticles were cytotoxic both in the presence and in the absence of serum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1925-1938
Number of pages14
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • engineered nanoparticles
  • lipid peroxidation
  • microsomal glutathione transferase 1
  • oxidative stress


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