Photoprotective activity of zirconia nanoparticles

Renata Guimarães de Sá, Tatiane Moraes Arantes, Erenilda Ferreira de Macedo, Luísa Molina Dona', Jeniffer C.F. Pereira, Carolina Ramos Hurtado, R. Jose Varghese, Oluwatobi Samuel Oluwafemi, Dayane Batista Tada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing incidence of diseases caused by the harmful effects of UV radiation in skin, predominantly skin cancer, induce the search for more efficient photoprotector agents. Nowadays, titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) are the most widely used photoprotectors and therefore form the main components of commercially available sunscreens. Although the outstanding efficiency in absorbing and scattering UV radiation, mainly as nanoparticles, recent studies have raised concerns regarding the safe use of these nanoparticles, especially due to their high generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Thereby, this work focus on the evaluation of the photoprotective activity of zirconia nanoparticles (ZrO2 NPs) and their cytotoxicity study in the presence and absence of UV irradiation. The ZrO2 NPs were synthesized by hydrothermal method and their hydrodynamic diameter, Zeta potential and colloidal stability were characterized by dynamic light scattering. The morphology and size were observed by transmission electron microscopy. The synthesis resulted in ZrO2 NPs with 50 nm of diameter and 56 nm of hydrodynamic diameter. The high colloidal stability was evidenced by the high value of Zeta potential (+48 mV) and low polydispersity index (0.09). The UV–vis spectrum of the ZrO2 NPs in aqueous suspension showed an intense light scattering below 250 and a wide absorption band at 285 nm. The poor generation of ROS by ZrO2 NPs was confirmed by the absence of photodegradation of methylene blue after long periods of irradiation. The in vitro assays performed with HaCaT cell line showed that the cell viability did not decrease in the absence of irradiation. However, after 24 h of incubation, the cell viability decreased under UV-irradiation in comparison with irradiated cells that were not incubated with ZrO2 NPs. Notably, in these assays, the cells were incubated with the ZrO2 NPs and after 24 h, they were replaced by fresh culture medium before the cell viability assay. Nevertheless, another in vitro assay was performed in order to evaluate the photoprotective activity of ZrO2 NPs. The cells were irradiated in the presence of ZrO2 NPs suspension. In this case, cell viability did not decrease even after long period of UV-irradiation and at higher concentration of ZrO2 NPs. The present results showed that ZrO2 NPs could be an interesting material to be used for skin photoprotection since they showed low cytotoxicity, absence of ROS generation and protection under UV irradiation. Additionally, the ZrO2 NPs suspension was transparent as usually required for applications in sunscreens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111636
JournalColloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Photoprotection
  • UV irradiation
  • Zirconia nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Photoprotective activity of zirconia nanoparticles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this