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Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2012 Mar 1;91:198-204. doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2011.10.056. Epub 2011 Nov 6.

Physicochemical characterization of engineered nanoparticles under physiological conditions: effect of culture media components and particle surface coating.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The use of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) in commercial products has increased substantially over the last few years. Some research has been conducted in order to determine whether or not such materials are cytotoxic, but questions remain regarding the role that physiological media and sera constituents play in ENP aggregation or stabilization. In this study, several characterization methods were used to evaluate the particle size and surface potential of 6 ENPs suspended in a number of culture media and in the presence of different culture media constituents. Dynamic light scattering (DLS) and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) were employed for size determinations. Results were interpreted on the basis of ENP surface potentials evaluated from particle electrophoretic mobilities (EPM). Measurements made after 24h of incubation at 37°C showed that the cell culture medium constituents had only moderate impact on the physicochemical properties of the ENP, although incubation in bovine serum albumin destabilized the colloidal system. In contrast, most of the serum proteins increased colloidal stabilization. Moreover, the type of ENP surface modification played a significant role in ENP behavior whereby the complexity of interactions between the ENPs and the medium components generally decreased with increasing complexity of the particle surface. This investigation emphasizes the importance of ENP characterization under conditions that are representative of cell culture media or physiological conditions for improved assessments of nanoparticle cytotoxicity.

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