Role of size scale of ZnO nanoparticles and microparticles on toxicity toward bacteria and osteoblast cancer cells

  • Shantikumar NairEmail author
  • Abhilash Sasidharan
  • V. V. Divya Rani
  • Deepthy Menon
  • Seema Nair
  • K. Manzoor
  • Satish Raina


The specific role of size scale, surface capping, and aspect ratio of zinc oxide (ZnO) particles on toxicity toward prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells was investigated. ZnO nano and microparticles of controlled size and morphology were synthesized by wet chemical methods. Cytotoxicity toward mammalian cells was studied using a human osteoblast cancer cell line and antibacterial activity using Gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli) as well as using Gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was conducted to characterize any visual features of the biocidal action of ZnO. We observed that antibacterial activity increased with reduction in particle size. Toxicity toward the human cancer cell line was considerably higher than previously observed by other researchers on the corresponding primary cells, suggesting selective toxicity of the ZnO to cancer cells. Surface capping was also found to profoundly influence the toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles toward the cancer cell line, with the toxicity of starch-capped ZnO being the lowest. Our results are found to be consistent with a membrane-related mechanism for nanoparticle toxicity toward microbes.


Poly Ethylene Glycol PAMAM Dendrimer Zinc Acetate Dihydrate Zinc Nitrate Hexahydrate Normal Osteoblast 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India for financial support through the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (NS & NT) initiative monitored by Professor C.N.R. Rao. We are thankful to Sajin P. Ravi for SEM analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shantikumar Nair
    • 1
    Email author
  • Abhilash Sasidharan
    • 1
  • V. V. Divya Rani
    • 1
  • Deepthy Menon
    • 1
  • Seema Nair
    • 1
  • K. Manzoor
    • 1
  • Satish Raina
    • 2
  1. 1.Amrita Center for NanosciencesAmrita Vishwa VidyapeethamKochiIndia
  2. 2.Institute of Molecular Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical SciencesKochiIndia

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