A review of hepatic nanotoxicology - summation of recent findings and considerations for the next generation of study designs

Ali Kermanizadeh, Leagh G. Powell, Vicki Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


The liver is one of the most important multi-functional organs in the human body. Amongst various crucial functions, it is the main detoxification center and predominantly implicated in the clearance of xenobiotics potentially including particulates that reach this organ. It is now well established that a significant quantity of injected, ingested or inhaled nanomaterials (NMs) translocate from primary exposure sites and accumulate in liver. This review aimed to summarize and discuss the progress made in the field of hepatic nanotoxicology, and crucially highlight knowledge gaps that still exist.Key considerations include In vivo studies clearly demonstrate that low-solubility NMs predominantly accumulate in the liver macrophages the Kupffer cells (KC), rather than hepatocytes.KCs lining the liver sinusoids are the first cell type that comes in contact with NMs in vivo. Further, these macrophages govern overall inflammatory responses in a healthy liver. Therefore, interaction with of NM with KCs in vitro appears to be very important.Many acute in vivo studies demonstrated signs of toxicity induced by a variety of NMs. However, acute studies may not be that meaningful due to liver's unique and unparalleled ability to regenerate. In almost all investigations where a recovery period was included, the healthy liver was able to recover from NM challenge. This organ's ability to regenerate cannot be reproduced in vitro. However, recommendations and evidence is offered for the design of more physiologically relevant in vitro models.Models of hepatic disease enhance the NM-induced hepatotoxicity.The review offers a number of important suggestions for the future of hepatic nanotoxicology study design. This is of great significance as its findings are highly relevant due to the development of more advanced in vitro, and in silico models aiming to improve physiologically relevant toxicological testing strategies and bridging the gap between in vitro and in vivo experimentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-176
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B: Critical Reviews
Issue number4
Early online date23 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020


  • Kupffer cells
  • Liver
  • adverse effects
  • nanomaterials
  • physiological relevance
  • “real” hazard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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