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Widely used iron nanoparticles exhibit toxic effects on neuronal cells

ic force. Eventually they had hoped to conduct in vivo experiments, using nanoparticles-laden nerve cells to bridge regions of damaged neurons. However, when they added nerve growth factor to nanoparticle-laden cells in culture flasks, they observed toxic dose-dependent effects: some cells died, and many of the survivors exhibited a diminished ability to produce neurites.

In their experiments, PC12 cells that had not been exposed to magnetic nanoparticles generated three neurites in response to nerve growth factor. However, exposure to a low concentration of iron oxide nanoparticles resulted in the production of fewer than three neurites per cell in response to growth factor addition. A 10-fold increase in the concentration of nanoparticles led to the production of two neurites per cell, and a 10-fold increase of that concentration resulted in only one neurite per cell. Additionally, neurites produced in response to the growth factor in the presence of iron oxide nanoparticles were less well formed and also showed abnormal morphology and neurobiological characteristics.

The researchers also studied long protein polymers inside the PC12 cells that make up the cytoskeletal structure. They found that iron oxide nanoparticles resulted in fewer and less organized microtubules and microfilaments, protein polymers involved in cell motility and cell shape.

"It's worth noting that neither iron oxide nanoparticles alone, nor the coating material alone are overtly toxic, but combining the two to create water-soluble nanoparticles has a completely different effect," said Pisanic, who carried out the studies as a part of a Ph.D. thesis project at UCSD.

Iron oxide nanoparticles are considered promising because they are maneuverable by remote magnetic fields, and can be coated with various marker molecules to make them stick selectively to tumors and other targets within the body. The particles can also be made to carry anti-cancer
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Contact: Rex Graham
ragraham@ucsd.edu
858-822-3075
University of California - San Diego
28-Mar-2007


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