Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.)

Toxicological profile of small airway epithelial cells exposed to gold nanoparticles.

PMID 24157586


Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have diverse applications in the biomedical industry such as in diagnosis, labeling, delivering and sensing. Despite their prevalent medical use, nanotoxicity induced by AuNPs is still largely unknown. We have previously shown that AuNPs could exert cytotoxic effects on lung fibroblasts. In this study, we investigated the in vitro toxicological effects of AuNPs in small airway epithelial cells (SAECs) which are the first cells of contact for inhaled NPs and compared expression of metallothionein (MT), a reactive oxygen species scavenger, in SAECs and lung fibroblasts in vitro. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy study revealed cellular uptake of aggregates of AuNPs into the cytoplasm at the ultrastructural level. A significant increase in lipid peroxide as well as substantial DNA damage and cytotoxicity was observed in AuNP-treated cells. For MT expression, AuNPs induced down-regulation of the MT-1X isoform in SAECs, but up-regulation of the MT-1X and MT-2 A isoforms in MRC5 lung fibroblasts. The present study suggests that AuNPs could induce oxidative stress-related cytotoxicity and genotoxicity in SAECs.