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Effect of surface properties of silica nanoparticles on their cytotoxicity and cellular distribution in murine macrophages

Hiromi Nabeshi12, Tomoaki Yoshikawa12*, Akihiro Arimori12, Tokuyuki Yoshida12, Saeko Tochigi12, Toshiro Hirai12, Takanori Akase12, Kazuya Nagano2, Yasuhiro Abe2, Haruhiko Kamada23, Shin-ichi Tsunoda24, Norio Itoh1, Yasuo Yoshioka23 and Yasuo Tsutsumi123*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Toxicology and Safety Science, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Osaka University, 1-6 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan

2 Laboratory of Biopharmaceutical Research (Pharmaceutical Proteomics), National Institute of Biomedical Innovation, 7-6-8 Saito-Asagi, Ibaraki, Osaka 567-0085, Japan

3 The Center for Advanced Medical Engineering and Informatics, Osaka University, 1-6 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan

4 Department of Biomedical Innovation, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Osaka University, 7-6-8, Saito-Asagi, Ibaraki, Osaka 567-0085, Japan

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Citation and License

Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:93  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-93

Published: 18 January 2011

Abstract

Surface properties are often hypothesized to be important factors in the development of safer forms of nanomaterials (NMs). However, the results obtained from studying the cellular responses to NMs are often contradictory. Hence, the aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between the surface properties of silica nanoparticles and their cytotoxicity against a murine macrophage cell line (RAW264.7). The surface of the silica nanoparticles was either unmodified (nSP70) or modified with amine (nSP70-N) or carboxyl groups (nSP70-C). First, the properties of the silica nanoparticles were characterized. RAW264.7 cells were then exposed to nSP70, nSP70-N, or nSP70-C, and any cytotoxic effects were monitored by analyzing DNA synthesis. The results of this study show that nSP70-N and nSP70-C have a smaller effect on DNA synthesis activity by comparison to unmodified nSP70. Analysis of the intracellular localization of the silica nanoparticles revealed that nSP70 had penetrated into the nucleus, whereas nSP70-N and nSP70-C showed no nuclear localization. These results suggest that intracellular localization is a critical factor underlying the cytotoxicity of these silica nanoparticles. Thus, the surface properties of silica nanoparticles play an important role in determining their safety. Our results suggest that optimization of the surface characteristics of silica nanoparticles will contribute to the development of safer forms of NMs.