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Citrate-stabilized gold nanoparticles do not impact neural progenitor cell development



Kavita M. Jeerage, Tammy L. Oreskovic, Alexandra Curtin, Aric W. Sanders, Rani K. Schwindt, Ann C. Chiaramonti Debay


Gold nanoparticles are promising candidates for medical diagnostics and therapeutics, due to their chemical stability, optical properties, and ease of functionalization. Citrate-stabilized gold nanoparticle reference materials also have potential as negative controls in toxicology studies of other nanoparticles. Here we examine the impact of these particles on the in vitro development of rat cortex neural progenitor cells (NPCs), which mimic aspects of the developing neurological environment. The stability of 30 nm gold particles in a low-serum culture medium was determined by dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy. Fixed cells were cross-sectioned by ion milling and imaged by scanning electron microscopy and helium ion microscopy to evaluate particle incorporation. This approach preserves information on cellular morphology. NPCs were exposed to 30 nm gold nanoparticles for ten days at concentrations of 0.5, 0.1, or 0.05 µg/mL. Adenosine triphosphate levels, as determined by bioluminescence measurements sensitive to low cell numbers, were not affected by gold nanoparticle exposure and the particles did not interfere with the assay. Total neurite outgrowth, a sensitive measure of neuronal development, was not affected by gold nanoparticle exposure, whereas the positive control chemical, neuroactive lithium, decreased total neurite outgrowth. Slide-level comparisons demonstrated the consistency of both measures. Our results indicate that 30 nm citrate-stabilized gold nanoparticles could serve as negative-control reference materials for in vitro developmental neurotoxicity studies.
Toxicology in Vitro


agglomeration, assay controls, metabolic activity, neurite outgrowth


Jeerage, K. , Oreskovic, T. , Curtin, A. , Sanders, A. , Schwindt, R. and Chiaramonti, A. (2015), Citrate-stabilized gold nanoparticles do not impact neural progenitor cell development, Toxicology in Vitro, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created January 5, 2015, Updated November 10, 2018