Biotransformation of rare earth oxide nanoparticles eliciting microbiota imbalance

Zheng, Huizhen; Gu, Zonglin; Pan, Yanxia; Chen, Jie; Xie, Qianqian; Xu, Shujuan; Gao, Meng; Cai, Xiaoming; Liu, Shengtang; Wang, Weili; Li, Wei; Liu, Xi; Yang, Zaixing; Zhou, Ruhong; Li, Ruibin

Disruption of microbiota balance may result in severe diseases in animals and phytotoxicity in plants. While substantial concerns have been raised on engineered nanomaterial (ENM) induced hazard effects (e.g., lung inflammation), exploration of the impacts of ENMs on microbiota balance holds great implications.

This study found that rare earth oxide nanoparticles (REOs) among 19 ENMs showed severe toxicity in Gram-negative (G−) bacteria, but negligible effects in Gram-positive (G+) bacteria. This distinct cytotoxicity was disclosed to associate with the different molecular initiating events of REOs in G− and G+ strains. La2O3 as a representative REOs was demonstrated to transform into LaPO4 on G− cell membranes and induce 8.3% dephosphorylation of phospholipids. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed the dephosphorylation induced more than 2-fold increments of phospholipid diffusion constant and an unordered configuration in membranes, eliciting the increments of membrane fluidity and permeability. Notably, the ratios of G−/G+ reduced from 1.56 to 1.10 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from the mice with La2O3 exposure. Finally, we demonstrated that both IL-6 and neutrophil cells showed strong correlations with G−/G+ ratios, evidenced by their correlation coefficients with 0.83 and 0.92, respectively.

This study deciphered the distinct toxic mechanisms of La2O3 as a representative REO in G− and G+ bacteria and disclosed that La2O3-induced membrane damages of G− cells cumulated into pulmonary microbiota imbalance exhibiting synergistic pulmonary toxicity. Overall, these findings offered new insights to understand the hazard effects induced by REOs.


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Particle and Fibre Toxicology

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Published Here
September 22, 2023


Rare earth oxide, Nanotoxicity, Biotransformation, Microbiota imbalance, Pulmonary inflammation