Research Highlight

Zinc oxide nanoshield against fatty liver

doi:10.1038/nindia.2019.58 Published online 10 May 2019

Researchers have discovered that zinc oxide nanoparticles can prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver, making these nanoparticles potentially useful for developing therapies for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)1

Viral infections and alcohol are known to damage the liver. In recent years, however, the increasing tendency towards sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy food habits has also increased the incidence of NAFLD. This affects many Indians, particularly those who are obese and diabetic.  

To devise a way to combat this emerging liver disease, scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology in Himachal Pradesh and the CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR) in Uttar Pradesh, both in India, prepared the zinc oxide nanoparticles and tested their efficiency in reducing fat accumulation in specific liver cells and in mice livers.

The researchers, led by Prasenjit Mondal and Debabrata Ghosh, found that the presence of zinc oxide nanoparticles prevented the accumulation of fat in the liver cells. Next, they found that the nanoparticles prevented the cellular factors that enhance fat storage in the livers of the fat-fed mice.

The researchers say that the nanoparticles triggered a cascade of molecular pathways that modulate lipid metabolism in the liver, eventually reducing fat deposition in the liver cells.

The findings of this research may help in formulating therapeutic strategies to improve insulin sensitivity and ameliorate the fatty liver disease associated with type 2 diabetes, they add.


1. Dogra, S. et al. Zinc oxide nanoparticles attenuate hepatic steatosis development in high-fat-diet fed mice through activated AMPK signaling axis. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine. 17, 210-222 (2019)