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In vivo nanotoxicity assessment: the role of size, surface coating, nanostructuration and dose-metrics

G. Vecchio, A. Galeone, V. Brunetti, G. Maiorano, M.A. Malvindi, S. Sabella, R. Cingolani, P.P. Pompa
Italian Institute of Technology, IT

Keywords: gold nanoparticles, quantum dots, Drosophila melanogaster, dose metrics


The growing use of nanomaterials in commercial goods and as novel carriers for drug delivery is generating increasing questions about possible risks for human health and environment, due to the lack of an in-depth assessment of their potential toxicity. In this frame, we focused on the study of metrology of nanoparticles (characterization of their size, shape, surface chemistry, aggregation/agglomeration, formation of protein/NP complexes) in order to design standardized in vitro protocols to assess dose-dependence toxicity. Moreover, we investigated the in vivo effects of AuNPs and QDs with different sizes, surface coatings, and nanostructuration, on the model system Drosophila melanogaster upon ingestion. We observed that nanoparticles induce clear adverse effects in treated organisms, such as a strong reduction of their life span and fertility, presence of DNA fragmentation and apoptosis, as well as a significant overexpression of the stress proteins. Interestingly, the toxic effects were found to be dependent on size, surface coatings and nanoscale surface features. These results open up important questions related to the safe use of nanoparticles and suggest some experimental routes for the development of safe nanocarriers.
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