The Radiosensitizing Effect of Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles in Sub-Cytotoxic Dosing Is Associated with Oxidative Stress In Vitro.
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Radioresistance is an important cause of head and neck cancer therapy failure. Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NP) mediate tumor-selective toxic effects. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential for radiosensitization of ZnO-NP. The dose-dependent cytotoxicity of ZnO-NP20 nm and ZnO-NP100 nm was investigated in FaDu and primary fibroblasts (FB) by an MTT assay. The clonogenic survival assay was used to evaluate the effects of ZnO-NP alone and in combination with irradiation on FB and FaDu. A formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase (FPG)-modified single-cell microgel electrophoresis (comet) assay was applied to detect oxidative DNA damage in FB as a function of ZnO-NP and irradiation exposure. A significantly increased cytotoxicity after FaDu exposure to ZnO-NP20 nm or ZnO-NP100 nm was observed in a concentration of 10 µg/mL or 1 µg/mL respectively in 30 µg/mL of ZnO-NP20 nm or 20 µg/mL of ZnO-NP100 nm in FB. The addition of 1, 5, or 10 µg/mL ZnO-NP20 nm or ZnO-NP100 nm significantly reduced the clonogenic survival of FaDu after irradiation. The sub-cytotoxic dosage of ZnO-NP100 nm increased the oxidative DNA damage compared to the irradiated control. This effect was not significant for ZnO-NP20 nm. ZnO-NP showed radiosensitizing properties in the sub-cytotoxic dosage. At least for the ZnO-NP100 nm, an increased level of oxidative stress is a possible mechanism of the radiosensitizing effect.