Applied Nanoscience

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 347–357 | Cite as

Synthesis of curcumin-functionalized gold nanoparticles and cytotoxicity studies in human prostate cancer cell line

  • Shruti Nambiar
  • Ernest Osei
  • Andre Fleck
  • Johnson Darko
  • Anthony J. Mutsaers
  • Shawn Wettig
Original Article


Gold nanoparticles synthesized using plant extracts with medicinal properties have gained traction in recent years, especially for their use in various biomedical applications. Colloidal stability of these nanoparticles in different environments is critical to retain the expected therapeutic/diagnostic efficacy and toxicological outcome. Any change in the colloidal stability leads to dramatic changes in the physico-chemical properties of the nanoparticles such as size and surface charge, which in turn may alter the biological activity of the particles. Such changes are imminent in physiologically-relevant environment wherein interactions with different biomolecules, such as serum proteins, may modify the overall properties of the nanoparticles. In this regard, we synthesized 15 nm sized gold nanoparticles using curcumin, a plant extract from turmeric root, to evaluate cytotoxicity, uptake, and localization in human prostate cancer cells using cell-culture medium supplemented with or without fetal bovine serum (FBS). The results indicate a dramatic difference in the cytotoxicity and uptake between cells treated with curcumin-functionalized gold nanoparticles (cur-AuNPs) in cell-culture medium with and without serum. The addition of FBS to the medium not only increased the stability of the nanoparticles but also enhanced the biocompatibility (i.e. minimal cytotoxicity for a wide range of cur-AuNP concentrations). We conclude that the presence of serum proteins significantly impact the therapeutic potential of cur-AuNPs.


Gold nanoparticles Curcumin Prostate cancer Serum protein Cytotoxicity Cellular uptake 



This research was financially supported by the Telus Ride for Dad and the Prostate Cancer Fight Foundation. We are thankful to Prof. Jonathan Blay for his help with the phase contrast microscope.

Supplementary material

13204_2018_728_MOESM1_ESM.docx (25 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 24 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PharmacyUniversity of WaterlooKitchenerCanada
  2. 2.Waterloo Institute for NanotechnologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Department of Medical PhysicsGrand River Regional Cancer CentreKitchenerCanada
  4. 4.Department of Systems Design EngineeringUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  5. 5.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  6. 6.Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary CollegeUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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