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Environ Sci Technol. 2015 May 5;49(9):5760-70. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00345. Epub 2015 Apr 16.

Copper oxide and zinc oxide nanomaterials act as inhibitors of multidrug resistance transport in sea urchin embryos: their role as chemosensitizers.

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†State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, School of the Environment, Nanjing University, Nanjing, 210023, P.R. China.
‡Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis, Bodega Bay, California 94923, United States.
§Departments of Environmental Toxicology and Nutrition, University of California, Davis, California 95616, United States.


The ability of engineered nanomaterials (NMs) to act as inhibitors of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) efflux transporters in embryos of white sea urchin (Lytechinus pictus) was studied. Nanocopper oxide (nano-CuO), nanozinc oxide (nano-ZnO), and their corresponding metal ions (CuSO4 and ZnSO4) were used as target chemicals. The results showed that nano-CuO, nano-ZnO, CuSO4, and ZnSO4, even at relatively low concentrations (0.5 ppm), significantly increased calcein-AM (CAM, an indicator of ABC transporter activity) accumulation in sea urchin embryos at different stages of development. Exposure to nano-CuO, a very low solubility NM, at increasing times after fertilization (>30 min) decreased CAM accumulation, but nano-ZnO (much more soluble NM) did not, indicating that metal ions could cross the hardened fertilization envelope, but not undissolved metal oxide NMs. Moreover, nontoxic levels (0.5 ppm) of nano-CuO and nano-ZnO significantly increased developmental toxicity of vinblastine (an established ABC transporter substrate) and functioned as chemosensitizers. The multidrug resistance associated protein (MRP, one of ABC transporters) inhibitor MK571 significantly increased copper concentrations in embryos, indicating ABC transporters are important in maintaining low intracellular copper levels. We show that low concentrations of nano-CuO and nano-ZnO can make embryos more susceptible to other contaminants, representing a potent amplification of nanomaterial-related developmental toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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