Author(s): Magogotya, M., Vetten, M., Roux-van derMerwe, M.P., Badenhorst, J., Gulumian, M.

Source: Mutation Research – Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis 883–884 (2022) 503556

Abstract: Ingestion and transdermal delivery are two common routes of nanoparticle (NP) exposure. In this study, the intracellular uptake, cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of 14 nm and 20 nm citrate-stabilized gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), 14 nm polyethylene glycol (PEG)-liganded carboxyl AuNPs, 14 nm PEG-liganded hydroxyl AuNPs and 14 nm PEG-liganded amine AuNPs were assessed on human epithelial colorectal adenocarcinoma (Caco-2) cells and the human skin keratinocyte (HaCaT) cells. The uptake of AuNPs in the cells was confirmed through darkfield microscopy and hyperspectral imaging followed by spectral angle mapping (SAM). A high level of citrate AuNPs was found in both cell lines whilst uptake of PEGylated AuNPs was low, irrespective of their functional groups. Cytotoxicity assessed by cell impedance was only observed for the 14 nm citrate-stabilized AuNPs. Enhanced cell proliferation was also observed in 14 nm PEG-liganded hydroxyl and 14 nm PEGliganded amine AuNP-treated Caco-2 and HaCaT cells. For the assessment of genotoxicity, the in vitro micronucleus assay was used. Dose-dependent genotoxicity was observed in both Caco-2 and HaCaT cells, with all the AuNPs inducing genotoxicity. In conclusion, the entry of NPs into the cells as well as toxicity was dependent on their physicochemical properties such as surface coating and different chemical functional groups.

Keywords: Gold nanoparticles; Cytotoxicity; Intracellular uptake; Genotoxicity