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Study on the visible-light-induced photokilling effect of nitrogen-doped TiO2 nanoparticles on cancer cells

Zheng Li1, Lan Mi1*, Pei-Nan Wang1 and Ji-Yao Chen2

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Micro and Nano Photonic Structures (Ministry of Education), Department of Optical Science and Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China

2 Surface Physics Laboratory (National Key Laboratory), Department of Physics, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:356  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-356

Published: 21 April 2011


Nitrogen-doped TiO2 (N-TiO2) nanoparticles were prepared by calcining the anatase TiO2 nanoparticles under ammonia atmosphere. The N-TiO2 showed higher absorbance in the visible region than the pure TiO2. The cytotoxicity and visible-light-induced phototoxicity of the pure- and N-TiO2 were examined for three types of cancer cell lines. No significant cytotoxicity was detected. However, the visible-light-induced photokilling effects on cells were observed. The survival fraction of the cells decreased with the increased incubation concentration of the nanoparticles. The cancer cells incubated with N-TiO2 were killed more effectively than that with the pure TiO2. The reactive oxygen species was found to play an important role on the photokilling effect for cells. Furthermore, the intracellular distributions of N-TiO2 nanoparticles were examined by laser scanning confocal microscopy. The co-localization of N-TiO2 nanoparticles with nuclei or Golgi complexes was observed. The aberrant nuclear morphologies such as micronuclei were detected after the N-TiO2-treated cells were irradiated by the visible light.