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After oxidation, zinc nanoparticles lose their ability to enhance responses to odorants



Samantha Hagerty, Yasmine C. Daniels, Melissa Singletary, Oleg Pustovyy, Ludmila Globa, William A. MacCrehan, Shinichiro Muramoto, June W. Lau, Edward Morrison, Iryna Sorokulova, Vitaly Vodyanoy, Gheorghe Stan


Electrical responses of olfactory sensory neurons to odorants were examined in the presence of zinc nanoparticles of various sizes and degrees of oxidation. The zinc nanoparticles were prepared by the underwater electrical discharge method and analyzed by atomic force microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Small (1.2±0.3 nm) zinc nanoparticles significantly enhanced electrical responses of olfactory neurons to odorants. After oxidation, however, these small zinc nanoparticles were no longer capable of enhancing olfactory responses. Larger zinc oxide nanoparticles (15 nm and 70 nm) also did not modulate responses to odorants. Neither zinc nor zinc oxide nanoparticles produced olfactory responses when added without odorants. The enhancement of odorant responses by small zinc nanoparticles was explained by the creation of olfactory receptor dimers initiated by small zinc nanoparticles. The results of this work will clarify the mechanisms for the initial events in olfaction, as well as to provide new ways to alleviate anosmia related to the loss of olfactory receptors.


zinc nanoparticle, olfactory neurons, atomic force microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, oxidation, zinc oxide


Hagerty, S. , Daniels, Y. , Singletary, M. , Pustovyy, O. , Globa, L. , MacCrehan, W. , Muramoto, S. , Lau, J. , Morrison, E. , Sorokulova, I. , Vodyanoy, V. and Stan, G. (2016), After oxidation, zinc nanoparticles lose their ability to enhance responses to odorants, Biometals, [online],, (Accessed May 26, 2024)


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Created September 19, 2016, Updated October 14, 2021