Background: Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs) are among the most frequently applied nanomaterials in consumer products. Evidence exists regarding the cytotoxic effects of ZnO NPs in mammalian cells; however, knowledge about the potential genotoxicity of ZnO NPs is rare, and results presented in the current literature are inconsistent. Objectives: The aim of this review is to summarize the existing data regarding the DNA damage that ZnO NPs induce, and focus on the possible molecular mechanisms underlying genotoxic events. Methods: Electronic literature databases were systematically searched for studies that report on the genotoxicity of ZnO NPs. Results: Several methods and different endpoints demonstrate the genotoxic potential of ZnO NPs. Most publications describe in vitro assessments of the oxidative DNA damage triggered by dissoluted Zn2+
ions. Most genotoxicological investigations of ZnO NPs address acute exposure situations. Conclusion: Existing evidence indicates that ZnO NPs possibly have the potential to damage DNA. However, there is a lack of long-term exposure experiments that clarify the intracellular bioaccumulation of ZnO NPs and the possible mechanisms of DNA repair and cell survival.
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