Nanotechnology is having a tremendous impact on our society. However, societal concerns about human safety under nanoparticle exposure may derail the broad application of this promising technology. Nanoparticles may enter the human body via various routes, including respiratory pathways, the digestive tract, skin contact, intravenous injection, and implantation. After absorption, nanoparticles are carried to distal organs by the bloodstream and the lymphatic system. During this process, they interact with biological molecules and perturb physiological systems. Although some ingested or absorbed nanoparticles are eliminated, others remain in the body for a long time. The human body is composed of multiple systems that work together to maintain physiological homeostasis. The unexpected invasion of these systems by nanoparticles disturbs normal cell signaling, impairs cell and organ functions, and may even cause pathological disorders. This review examines the comprehensive health risks of exposure to nanoparticles by discussing how nanoparticles perturb various physiological systems as revealed by animal studies. The potential toxicity of nanoparticles to each physiological system and the implications of disrupting the balance among systems are emphasized.
ASJC Scopus subject areas