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Nanotoxicology. 2013 Dec;7(8):1373-85. doi: 10.3109/17435390.2012.741725. Epub 2012 Nov 12.

Can the Ames test provide an insight into nano-object mutagenicity? Investigating the interaction between nano-objects and bacteria.

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Adolphe Merkle Institute and Fribourg Center for Nanomaterials, University of Fribourg , Rte de l'Ancienne Papeterie, CH-1723 Marly 1 , Switzerland.


The aim of this study was to assess the interaction of a series of well characterised nano-objects with the Gram negative bacterium Salmonella typhimurium, and how such an interaction may relate to the potential mutagenicity of nano-objects. Transmission electron microscopy showed that nano-objects (Au-PMA-ATTO NPs, CeO₂ NPs, SWCNTs and MWCNTs), as well as CAFs entered S. typhimurium. Only DEPs did not penetrate/enter the bacteria, however, were the only particle stimulus to induce any significant mutagenicity through the Ames test. Comparison with a sophisticated 3D in vitro cell model showed CAFs, DEPs, SWCNTs and MWCNTs to cause a significant increase in mammalian cell proliferation, whilst both the Au-PMA-ATTO NPs and CeO₂ NPs had not significant adverse effects. In conclusion, these results indicate that various of different nano-objects are able to penetrate the double-lipid bilayer of Gram negative bacteria, although the Ames test may not be a good indicator for nano-object mutagenicity.

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