In vitro toxicity assessment of silver and zinc oxide nanoparticles

Clint Johnson

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Nanotoxicology is a nascent field of study concerned with the potential for nanotechnology to adversely impact human health or result in ecological damage. Nanomaterials can display unique physicochemical properties not present in the parent bulk material and it is these properties that may be a potential source of toxicity. There are a growing number of examples of nanomaterials functioning differently in biosystems compared to the parent bulk material. With the rapid growth of nanotechnology and increasing exposure of people to novel nanomaterials there is an urgent need to evaluate the toxicity of nanomaterials. In this study the toxicities of silver and zinc oxide nanoparticles were assessed. The effects of size and surface coating on the cytotoxicity and immunogenicity of silver nanoparticles were investigated, with cytotoxicity found to be inversely proportional to nanoparticle size. The subcutaneous penetration of zinc oxide nanoparticles was assessed to determine whether this material can be safely used as a UV filter in sunscreens and cosmetics. No dermal penetration was detected using a porcine in vitro model. Zinc oxide nanoparticles were also used as a model material to investigate nano-specific toxicity by comparing cytotoxicity and changes to gene expression with bulk scale zinc oxide. In both cases cytotoxicity and changes to gene expression were greater for zinc oxide nanoparticles. Methods and techniques to test the toxicity of nanomaterials in vitro and the implication for in vivo toxicity are only beginning to be elucidated. The methods and techniques used in this study, particularly nanomaterial stabilization in biofluids and toxicity testing using blood cell cultures, may assist the establishment of standard in vitro testing protocols for nanomaterials.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2009


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