Targeting and non-targeting effects of nanomaterials on DNA: challenges and perspectives

  • Ruixue Huang
  • Yao Zhou
  • Sai Hu
  • Ping-Kun ZhouEmail author
review paper


Due to their large-scale manufacture and widespread application, there have been a number of studies related to toxicological assessment of nanomaterials (NMs) over the past decade. Although there has been extensive research on the cytotoxicity of NMs, concerns have been raised about their possible genotoxicity. The genome is constantly exposed to genotoxic insults that can lead to DNA damage, which in turn can have consequences for health, such as the induction of carcinogenesis. This comprehensive review focuses on the direct and indirect interactions of NMs with DNA. Factors influencing the genotoxicity of NMs, such as their physicochemical characteristics, are also discussed. The mechanisms involved in the direct and indirect interactions of NMs with DNA are also reviewed. Many studies have shown that ENMs have genotoxic effects, such as chromosomal fragmentation, DNA strand breaks, point mutations, oxidative DNA adducts, apoptosis, hypoxic responses, mitochondrial dysfunction, and epigenetic modifications. As the data reported to date are inconsistent, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions regarding the features of NMs that promote genotoxicity. Therefore, challenges and future research perspectives are discussed. This review provides insights into the genotoxic effects of NMs and their consequences for human health.


Nanomaterial DNA Genotoxicity 



This study is supported by grants from National Key Basic Research Program (973 Program) of MOST, China (Grant No. 2015CB910601), the National Natural Science Foundations of China (Grant Nos. U1803124, 81530085, 31870847).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Consent for publication

This work is published under the standard license to publish agreement.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Occupational and Environmental HealthCentral South UniversityChangshaChina
  2. 2.Department of Radiation Biology, Beijing Key Laboratory for Radiobiology, Beijing Institute of Radiation MedicineAMMSBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Institute for Chemical Carcinogenesis, State Key Laboratory of RespiratoryGuangzhou Medical UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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