Effect of engineered TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles on erythrocytes, platelet-rich plasma and giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles
Massive industrial production of engineered nanoparticles poses questions about health risks to living beings. In order to understand the underlying mechanisms, we studied the effects of TiO2 and ZnO agglomerated engineered nanoparticles (EPs) on erythrocytes, platelet-rich plasma and on suspensions of giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles.
Washed erythrocytes, platelet-rich plasma and suspensions of giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles were incubated with samples of EPs. These samples were observed by different microscopic techniques. We found that TiO2 and ZnO EPs adhered to the membrane of washed human and canine erythrocytes. TiO2 and ZnO EPs induced coalescence of human erythrocytes. Addition of TiO2 and ZnO EPs to platelet-rich plasma caused activation of human platelets after 24 hours and 3 hours, respectively, while in canine erythrocytes, activation of platelets due to ZnO EPs occurred already after 1 hour. To assess the effect of EPs on a representative sample of giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles, analysis of the recorded populations was improved by applying the principles of statistical physics. TiO2 EPs did not induce any notable effect on giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles within 50 minutes of incubation, while ZnO EPs induced a decrease in the number of giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles that was statistically significant (p < 0,001) already after 20 minutes of incubation.
These results indicate that TiO2 and ZnO EPs cause erythrocyte aggregation and could be potentially prothrombogenic, while ZnO could also cause membrane rupture.