2013 Volume 38 Issue 3 Pages 363-370
Zinc oxide (ZnO) nano-sized particles (NPs) are beneficial materials used for sunscreens and cosmetics. Although ZnO NPs are widely used for cosmetics, the health effects of exposure during pregnancy on offspring are largely unknown. Here we investigated the effects of prenatal exposure to ZnO NPs on the monoaminergic system of the mouse brain. Subcutaneous administration of ZnO NPs to the pregnant ICR mice (total 500 μg/mouse) were carried out and then measured the levels of dopamine (DA), serotonin (5-HT), and noradrenalin, and their metabolites in 9 regions of the brain of offspring (6-week-old) using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). HPLC analysis demonstrated that DA levels were increased in hippocampus in the ZnO NP exposure group. In the levels of DA metabolites, homovanillic acid was increased in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, and 3, 4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid was increased in the prefrontal cortex by prenatal ZnO NP exposure. Furthermore, DA turnover levels were increased in the prefrontal cortex, neostriatum, nucleus accumbens, and amygdala in the ZnO NP exposure group. We also found changes of the levels of serotonin in the hypothalamus, and of the levels of 5-HIAA (5-HT metabolite) in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus in the ZnO NP-exposed group. The levels of 5-HT turnover were increased in each of the regions except for the cerebellum by prenatal ZnO NP exposure. The present study indicated that prenatal exposure to ZnO NPs might disrupt the monoaminergic system, and suggested the possibility of detrimental effects on the mental health of offspring.