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School of Pharmacy


Pharmaceutical Sciences


The recent surge in incorporation of metallic and metal oxide nanomaterials into consumer products and their corresponding use in occupational settings have raised concerns over the potential for metals to induce size-specific adverse toxicological effects. Although nano-metals have been shown to induce greater lung injury and inflammation than their larger metal counterparts, their size-related effects on the immune system and allergic disease remain largely unknown. This knowledge gap is particularly concerning since metals are historically recognized as common inducers of allergic contact dermatitis, occupational asthma, and allergic adjuvancy. The investigation into the potential for adverse immune effects following exposure to metal nanomaterials is becoming an area of scientific interest since these characteristically lightweight materials are easily aerosolized and inhaled, and their small size may allow for penetration of the skin, which may promote unique size-specific immune effects with implications for allergic disease. Additionally, alterations in physicochemical properties of metals in the nano-scale greatly influence their interactions with components of biological systems, potentially leading to implications for inducing or exacerbating allergic disease. Although some research has been directed toward addressing these concerns, many aspects of metal nanomaterial-induced immune effects remain unclear. Overall, more scientific knowledge exists in regards to the potential for metal nanomaterials to exacerbate allergic disease than to their potential to induce allergic disease. Furthermore, effects of metal nanomaterial exposure on respiratory allergy have been more thoroughly-characterized than their potential influence on dermal allergy. Current knowledge regarding metal nanomaterials and their potential to induce/exacerbate dermal and respiratory allergy are summarized in this review. In addition, an examination of several remaining knowledge gaps and considerations for future studies is provided.

Source Citation

Roach, K. A., Stefaniak, A. B., & Roberts, J. R. (2019). Metal nanomaterials: Immune effects and implications of physicochemical properties on sensitization, elicitation, and exacerbation of allergic disease. Journal of Immunotoxicology, 16(1), 87–124.



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