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Effect of the size and surface charge of silica nanoparticles on cutaneous toxicity


Silica nanoparticles (NPs) are widely applied in many fields, such as chemical industry, medicine, cosmetics, and agriculture. However, the hazardous effects of silica NPs exposure are not completely understood. In this study, the two different sizes (20 nm and 100 nm) and different charges (negatively charged [NC] and weakly negatively charged [WNC]) of silica NPs were used. The present study investigated the cytotoxicity and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation of silica NPs on keratinocytes. The phototoxicity test of silica NPs was performed on skin fibroblast cells. In addition, skin irritation and skin sensitization of silica NPs were studied on HSEM and mouse skin, respectively. The cell viability of NC 20 nm silica NPs was decreased. However, there are no cytotoxicity for NC 100 nm silica NPs and WNC silica NPs (20 and 100 nm). The results for silica NPs-induced ROS generation are consistent with the cytotoxicity test by silica NPs. Further, NC and WNC silica NPs induced no phototoxicity, acute cutaneous irritation, or skin sensitization. These results suggested that silica NPs-induced ROS generation was the determinant of cytotoxicity. This study showed that the smaller size (20 nm) of silica NPs had more toxicity than the larger size (100 nm) of silica NPs for NC silica NPs. Moreover, we observed an effect of surface charge in cytotoxicity and ROS generation, by showing that the NC silica NPs (20 nm) had more toxic than the WNC silica NPs (20 nm). These findings suggested that the surface charge of silica NPs might be the important parameter for silica NPs-induced toxicity. Further study is needed to assess the effect of surface modification of nanotoxicity.

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Correspondence to Yoon-Hee Park.

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Park, YH., Bae, H.C., Jang, Y. et al. Effect of the size and surface charge of silica nanoparticles on cutaneous toxicity. Mol. Cell. Toxicol. 9, 67–74 (2013).

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  • Silica
  • Phototoxicity
  • Skin irritation
  • Skin sensitization