Authors: Tlotleng N, Vetten M.A, Keter F.K, Skepu A, ,Tshikudo R, Gulumian M.

Source: Cell Biol Toxicol. 2016 Aug;32(4):305-21


Abstract:Surface-modified gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are nanomaterials that hold promise in drug delivery applications. In this study, the cytotoxicity, uptake, intracellular localization, and the exocytosis of citrate-stabilized (Cit-AuNP) and polyethylene glycol (PEG)-modified gold nanoparticles with the carboxyl (COOH) terminal functional group were assessed in human embryonic kidney (HEK 293) and the human caucasian hepatocytes carcinoma (Hep G2) cell systems, representing two major accumulation sites for AuNPs. The zeta (ζ)-potential measurements confirmed the negative surface charge of the AuNPs in water and in cell growth medium. The transmission electron microscopy confirmed the size and morphology of the AuNPs. Both types of AuNPs were shown to induce cytotoxic effects in cells. The Hep G2 cells were more sensitive cell type, with the COOH-PEG-AuNPs inducing the highest toxicity at higher concentrations. Dark field microscopy and TEM images revealed that the AuNPs were internalized in cells, mostly as agglomerates. TEM micrographs further revealed that the AuNPs were confined as agglomerates inside vesicle-like compartments, likely to be endosomal and lysosomal structures as well as in the cytosol, mostly as individual particles. The AuNPs were shown to remain in cellular compartments for up to 3 weeks, but thereafter, clearance of the gold nanoparticles from the cells by exocytosis was evident. The results presented in this study may therefore give an indication on the fate of AuNPs on long-term exposure to cells and may also assist in safety evaluation of AuNPs.




Cytotoxicity; Exocytosis; Gold nanoparticles; Subcellular localization; Transmission electron microscopy; Uptak