56Co-labelled radioactive Fe3O4 nanoparticles for in vitro uptake studies on Balb/3T3 and Caco-2 cell lines
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Magnetite nanoparticles (Fe3O4 NPs) are manufactured nanomaterials increasingly used in healthcare for different medical applications ranging from diagnosis to therapy. This study deals with the irradiation of Fe3O4 NPs with a proton beam in order to produce 56Co as radiolabel and also with the possible use of nuclear techniques for the quantification of Fe3O4 NPs in biological systems. Particular attention has been focused on the size distribution (in the range of 100 nm) and the surface charge of the NPs characterizing them before and after the irradiation process in order to verify if these essential properties would be preserved during irradiation. Moreover, X-ray diffraction studies have been performed on radioactive and non-radioactive NPs, to assess if major changes in NPs structure might occur due to thermal and/or radiation effects. The radiation emitted from the radiolabels has been used to quantify the cellular uptake of the NPs in in vitro studies. As for the biological applications two cell lines have been selected: immortalized mouse fibroblast cell line (Balb/3T3) and human epithelial colorectal adenocarcinoma cell line (Caco-2). The cell uptake has been quantified by radioactivity measurements of the 56Co radioisotope performed with high resolution γ-ray spectrometry equipment. This study has showed that, under well-established irradiation conditions, Fe3O4 NPs do not undergo significant structural modifications and thus the obtained results are in line with the uptake studies carried out with the same non-radioactive nanomaterials (NMs). Therefore, the radiolabelling method can be fruitfully applied to uptake studies because of the low-level exposure where higher sensitivity is required.