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Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2015 May 1;129:130-6. doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2015.03.039. Epub 2015 Mar 23.

In vitro and in vivo toxicity evaluation of plant virus nanocarriers.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Perugia, via del Liceo 1, 06123 Perugia, Italy.
Laboratory of Biotechnology, Technical Unit Radiation Biology and Human Health, ENEA Casaccia Research Center, Via Anguillarese 301, 00123 S. Maria di Galeria, Rome, Italy.
Department of Chemistry, Biology, and Biotechnology, University of Perugia, via elce di sotto, 06123 Perugia, Italy.
School of Pharmacy, University of Camerino, Via Sant'Agostino 1, 62032 Camerino, Italy. Electronic address:
Department of Agriculture, Forests, Nature and Energy (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Via San Camillo de Lellis snc, 01100 Viterbo, Italy.


The use of biological self-assembling materials, plant virus nanoparticles in particular, appears very intriguing as it allows a great choice of symmetries and dimensions, easy chemical and biological engineering of both surface and/or internal cavity as well as safe and rapid production in plants. In this perspective, we present an initial evaluation of the safety profile of two structurally different plant viruses produced in Nicotiana benthamiana L. plants: the filamentous Potato virus X and the icosahedral Tomato bushy stunt virus. In vitro haemolysis assay was used to test the cytotoxic effects, which could arise by pVNPs interaction with cellular membranes, while early embryo assay was used to evaluate toxicity and teratogenicity in vivo. Data indicates that these structurally robust particles, still able to infect plants after incubation in serum up to 24h, have neither toxic nor teratogenic effects in vitro and in vivo. This work represents the first safety-focused characterization of pVNPs in view of their possible use as drug delivery carriers.


Nanoparticles; Plant virus nanoparticles; Potato virus X; Teratogenicity; Tomato bushy stunt virus; Toxicity

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