Friday, 19 April 2013

Gold nanoparticles penetrate and disrupt our stem cells

Today, gold and gold nanoparticles can be found almost everywhere, including personal care products, solar cells, rheumatoid arthritis drugs, MRI contrast agents etc. Generally, gold is universally recognised as the most inert of metals. However, a new study suggests that gold nanoparticles actually interact with our adipose stem cells, inhibiting their function and causing aging, wrinkling, slowed wound healing and even the onset of diabetes.

In this study, the researchers, led by Tatsiana Mironava, investigated in vitro whether low doses of gold nanoparticles have a negative impact on human stem cells derived from fat tissue.

According to the study, gold nanoparticles penetrate almost instantly the cells, disrupting several functions including:
  • Cell division
  • Movement
  • Collagen contraction

All these functions are highly involved in wound healing so its safe to assume that in real specimen this process would be greatly hindered.

Image of Adult stem cells harvested from fat tissue
Adult stem cells from fat tissue

The researchers also discovered that gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) can interfere with genetic regulation and RNA expression. As a result, a large number of the stem cells failed to properly differentiate. These findings are "most disturbing" due to the inert nature gold was believed to have, say the researchers.

"Reductions caused by AuNPs can result in systemic changes to the body, Since they have been considered inert and essentially harmless, it was assumed that pure gold nanoparticles would also be safe. Evidence to the contrary is beginning to emerge." said Mironava.

On the bright side, the study showed that once the AuNPs source is removed the concentration of AuNPs inside the cells start to decrease and normal functions are eventually restored.

"Progress comes with social responsibility and ensuring that new technologies are environmentally sustainable. These results are very relevant to achieving these goals." said co-author of the study, Miriam Rafailovich.

Mironava, T., Hadjiargyrou, M., Simon, M., & Rafailovich, M. (2013). Gold nanoparticles cellular toxicity and recovery: Adipose Derived Stromal cells Nanotoxicology, 1-13 DOI: 10.3109/17435390.2013.769128

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