Oxidative stress contributes to gold nanoparticle-induced cytotoxicity in human tumor cells.Toxicol Mech Methods. 2014 Mar; 24(3):161-72.TM
Due to their exceptional properties, gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have shown promising medical and technological applications in the treatment of cancer and the development of antimicrobial packaging and time-temperature indicators in the food sector. However, little is known about their cytotoxicity when they come into contact with biological systems. The aim of this work was to compare the effects of three commercially available AuNPs of different sizes (30, 50 and 90 nm) on human leukemia (HL-60) and hepatoma (HepG2) cell lines. AuNP-induced cytotoxicity was dose and time-dependent, with IC50 values higher than 15 μg/mL. Nanoparticle (NP) size and cell line slightly influenced on the cytotoxicity of AuNPs, although HL-60 cells proved to be more sensitive to the cytotoxic response than HepG2. N-Acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) protected HL-60 and HepG2 cells only against treatment with 30 nm AuNPs. In both cell types, glutathione (GSH) content was drastically depleted after 72 h of incubation with the three AuNPs (less than 30% in all cases), while the reduction of superoxide dismutase activity (SOD) activity depended on cell line. HepG2, but not HL-60 cells, exhibited a decrease of SOD activity (∼ 45% of activity). The three AuNPs also caused a two-fold elevation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in both cell lines. Thus, protective effect of NAC, depletion of GSH and increase of ROS appear to be determined by NP size and indicate that oxidative stress contributes to cytotoxicity of AuNPs.