Applied Surface Science, Vol.487, 807-818, 2019
Zinc oxide nanoparticles induce oxidative and proteotoxic stress in ovarian cancer cells and trigger apoptosis independent of p53-mutation status
Ovarian cancer continues to be the most lethal among gynecological malignancies and the major cause for cancer-associated mortality among women. Limitations of current ovarian cancer therapeutics are highlighted by the high frequency of drug-resistant recurrent tumors and the extremely poor 5-year survival rates. Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) have shown promise in various biomedical applications including utility as anti-cancer agents. Here, we describe the synthesis and characterization of physical properties of ZnO-NPs of increasing particle size (15 nm-55 nm) and evaluate their benefits as an ovarian cancer therapeutic using established human ovarian cancer cell lines. Our results demonstrate that the ZnO-NPs induce acute oxidative and proteotoxic stress in ovarian cancer cells leading to their death via apoptosis. The cytotoxic effect of the ZnO-NPs was found to increase slightly with a decrease in nanoparticle size. While ZnO-NPs caused depletion of both wild-type and gain-of-function (GOF) mutant p53 protein in ovarian cancer cells, their ability to induce apoptosis was found to be independent of the p53-mutation status in these cells. Taken together, these results highlight the potential of ZnO-NPs to serve as an anti-cancer therapeutic agent for treating ovarian cancers independent of the p53 mutants of the cancer cells.