Physicochemical properties of nanoparticles are important in regulating nanoparticle toxicity; however, the contribution of nanoparticle charge remains unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate the pulmonary effects of inhalation of charged soot nanoparticles. We established a stably charged nanoparticle generation system for whole-body exposure in BALB/c mice, which produced positively charged, negatively charged, and neutral soot nanoparticles in a wide range of concentrations. After a 7-day exposure, pulmonary toxicity was assessed, together with proteomics analysis. The charged soot nanoparticles on average carried 1.17–1.35 electric charges, and the sizes for nanoparticles under different charging conditions were all fixed at 69 ~ 72 nm. We observed that charged soot nanoparticles induced cytotoxic LDH and increased lung permeability, with the release of 8-isoprostane and caspase-3 and systemic IL-6 in mice, especially for positively charged soot nanoparticles. Next, we observed that positive-charged soot nanoparticles upregulated Eif2, Eif4, sirtuin, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR), and HIPPO-related signaling pathways in the lungs compared with negatively charged soot nanoparticles. HIF1α, sirt1, E-cadherin, and Yap were increased in mice’s lungs by positively charged soot nanoparticle exposure. In conclusion, carbonaceous nanoparticles carrying electric ions, especially positive-charged, are particularly toxic when inhaled and should be of concern in terms of pulmonary health protection.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Inflammation
  • Nanoparticle charge
  • Nanoparticles
  • Oxidative stress
  • Particulate matter
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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