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Nanotoxicology. 2014 Feb;8(1):88-99. doi: 10.3109/17435390.2012.752051. Epub 2012 Dec 21.

Interaction with culture medium components, cellular uptake and intracellular distribution of cobalt nanoparticles, microparticles and ions in Balb/3T3 mouse fibroblasts.

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  • 1ECSIN - European Center for the Sustainable Impact of Nanotechnologies, Veneto Nanotech ScpA , Rovigo , Italy.


The mechanistic understanding of nanotoxicity requires the physico-chemical characterisation of nanoparticles (NP), and their comparative investigation relative to the corresponding ions and microparticles (MP). Following this approach, the authors studied the dissolution, interaction with medium components, bioavailability in culture medium, uptake and intracellular distribution of radiolabelled Co forms (CoNP, CoMP and Co(2+)) in Balb/3T3 mouse fibroblasts. Co(2+) first saturates the binding sites of molecules in the extracellular milieu (e.g., albumin and histidine) and on the cell surface. Only after saturation, Co(2+) is actively uptaken. CoNP, instead, are predicted to be internalised by endocytosis. Dissolution of Co particles allows the formation of Co compounds (CoNP-rel), whose mechanism of cellular internalisation is unknown. Co uptake (ranking CoMP > CoNP > Co(2+)) reached maximum at 4 h. Once inside the cell, CoNP spread into the cytosol and organelles. Consequently, massive amounts of Co ions and CoNP-rel can reach subcellular compartments normally unexposed to Co(2+). This could explain the fact that the nuclear and mitochondrial Co concentrations resulted significantly higher than those obtained with Co(2+).

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