PloS one

Copper oxide nanoparticles induce autophagic cell death in A549 cells.

PMID 22916263


Metal oxide nanoparticles (NPs) are among the most highly produced nanomaterials, and have many diverse functions in catalysis, environmental remediation, as sensors, and in the production of personal care products. In this study, the toxicity of several widely used metal oxide NPs such as copper oxide, silica, titanium oxide and ferric oxide NPs, were evaluated In vitro. We exposed A549, H1650 and CNE-2Z cell lines to metal oxide NPs, and found CuO NPs to be the most toxic, SiO2 mild toxic, while the other metal oxide NPs had little effect on cell viability. Furthermore, the autophagic biomarker LC3-II significantly increased in A549 cells treated with CuO NPs, and the use of the autophagy inhibitors wortmannin and 3-methyladenin significantly improved cell survival. These results indicate that the cytoxicity of CuO NPs may involve the autophagic pathway in A549 cells.