Toxicity of silica nanoparticles depends on size, dose, and cell type

In Yong Kim, Elizabeth Joachim, Hyungsoo Choi, Kyekyoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Monodisperse spherical silica nanoparticles (SNPs) with diameters of 20-200. nm were employed to study size, dose, and cell-type dependent cytotoxicity in A549 and HepG2 epithelial cells and NIH/3T3 fibroblasts. These uniform SNPs of precisely controlled sizes eliminated uncertainties arising from mixed sizes, and uniquely allowed the probing of effects entirely size-dependent. Cell viability, membrane disruption, oxidative stress, and cellular uptake were studied. The extent and mechanism of SNP cytotoxicity were found to be not only size and dose dependent, but also highly cell type dependent. Furthermore, the 60. nm SNPs exhibited highly unusual behavior in comparison to particles of other sizes tested, implying interesting possibilities for controlling cellular activities using nanoparticles. Specifically, the 60. nm SNPs were preferentially endocytosed by cells and, at high doses, caused a disproportionate decrease in cell viability. The present work may help elucidate certain contradictions among existing results on nanoparticle-induced cytotoxicity. From the Clinical Editor: Silica nanoparticles are being investigated in many research areas for their use in clinical applications. Nonetheless, the relationship between particle size and potential toxicity remains to be elucidated. In this article, the authors studied the biological effects of spherical SNPs with precise diameters between 20 and 200 nm on three different cell types and their results should provide more data on safety for better drug design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1407-1416
Number of pages10
JournalNanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015


  • Cellular uptake
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Oxidative stress
  • Silica nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Pharmaceutical Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Toxicity of silica nanoparticles depends on size, dose, and cell type'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this