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Effect of size, shape, and surface modification on cytotoxicity of gold nanoparticles to human Hep-2 and canine MDCK cells

Zhang, Yinan and Xu, Dan and Li, Wenqin and Yu, Jun and Chen, Yu (2012) Effect of size, shape, and surface modification on cytotoxicity of gold nanoparticles to human Hep-2 and canine MDCK cells. Journal of Nanomaterials.

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Abstract

There have been increasing interests in applying gold nanoparticles in biological research, drug delivery, and therapy. As the interaction of gold nanoparticles with cells relies on properties of nanoparticles, the cytotoxicity is complex and still under debating. In this work, we investigate the cytotoxicity of gold nanoparticles of different encapsulations, surface charge states, sizes and shapes to both human HEp-2 and canine MDCK cells. We found that cetyltrimethylammonium-bromide- (CTAB-) encapsulated gold nanorods (GNRs) were relatively higher cytotoxic than GNRs undergone further polymer coating and citrate stabilized gold nanospheres (GNSs). The toxicity of CTAB-encapsulated GNRs was mainly caused by CTAB on GNRs’ surface but not free CTAB in the solution. No obvious difference was found among GNRs of different aspect ratios. Time-lapse study revealed that cell death caused by GNRs occurred predominately within one hour through apoptosis, whereas cell death by free CTAB was in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Both positively and negatively surface-charged polymer-coated GNRs (PSS-GNRs and PAH-PSS-GNRs) showed similar levels of cytotoxic, suggesting the significance of surface functionality rather than surface charge in this case.