Background: Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnONPs) are widely used nanomaterial in personal cosmetics, such as skin creams and sunscreens, due to their whitening properties and strong UV light absorption. However, the safety issues and the hazards of ZnONPs, which can be taken up by the skin and cause skin toxicity, are still unclear. From a chemoprevention point of view, pterostilbene (PT) has been reported to prevent skin damage effectively by its anti-inflammatory and autophagy inducer effect. This study aims to determine the skin toxicity and the potential mechanisms of UVB and ZnONPs exposure and the preventive effect of PT. Results: The co-exposure of UVB and ZnONPs elicit NLRP3 inflammasome activation and pyroptosis in keratinocytes. Furthermore, exposure to both UVB and ZnONPs also disrupts cellular autophagy, which increases cell exosome release. In vivo UVB and ZnONPs exposure triggers skin toxicity, as indicated by increased histological injury, skin thickness and transepidermal water loss. Notably, the NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated pyroptosis are also activated during exposure. Topical application of pterostilbene attenuates NLRP3 inflammasome activation and pyroptosis by decreasing ROS generation and mitochondrial ROS (mtROS) levels. In addition to its antioxidant effect, PT also reversed autophagy abnormalities by restoring normal autophagic flux and decreasing NLRP3 inflammasome-loaded exosome release. Conclusions: Our findings reveal that ZnONPs induce skin damage in conjunction with UVB exposure. This process involves an interplay of inflammasomes, pyroptosis, autophagy dysfunction, and exosomes in skin toxicity. PT alleviates skin inflammation by regulating the inflammasome–autophagy–exosome pathway, a finding which could prove valuable when further evaluating ZnONPs effects for cosmetic applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes