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Nanomaterials 2014, 4(2), 355-371; doi:10.3390/nano4020355

The Impact of Surface Ligands and Synthesis Method on the Toxicity of Glutathione-Coated Gold Nanoparticles

1 Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Oregon State University, 1007 ALS Building, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA 2 Department of Chemistry, Portland State University, 1719 SW 10th Ave., Portland, OR 97201, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 March 2014 / Revised: 16 April 2014 / Accepted: 30 April 2014 / Published: 12 May 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotoxicology)
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Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are increasingly used in biomedical applications, hence understanding the processes that affect their biocompatibility and stability are of significant interest. In this study, we assessed the stability of peptide-capped AuNPs and used the embryonic zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a vertebrate system to investigate the impact of synthesis method and purity on their biocompatibility. Using glutathione (GSH) as a stabilizer, Au-GSH nanoparticles with identical core sizes were terminally modified with Tryptophan (Trp), Histidine (His) or Methionine (Met) amino acids and purified by either dialysis or ultracentrifugation. Au-GSH-(Trp)2 purified by dialysis elicited significant morbidity and mortality at 200 µg/mL, Au-GSH-(His)2 induced morbidity and mortality after purification by either method at 20 and 200 µg/mL, and Au-GSH-(Met)2 caused only sublethal responses at 200 µg/mL. Overall, toxicity was significantly reduced and ligand structure was improved by implementing ultracentrifugation purifications at several stages during the multi-step synthesis and surface modification of Au-GSH nanoparticles. When carefully synthesized at high purity, peptide-functionalized AuNPs showed high biocompatibility in biological systems.
Keywords: glutathione; gold; nanoparticle; nanotoxicity; biocompatibility; purity; synthesis; zebrafish glutathione; gold; nanoparticle; nanotoxicity; biocompatibility; purity; synthesis; zebrafish
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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Harper, B.; Sinche, F.; Ho Wu, R.; Gowrishankar, M.; Marquart, G.; Mackiewicz, M.; Harper, S.L. The Impact of Surface Ligands and Synthesis Method on the Toxicity of Glutathione-Coated Gold Nanoparticles. Nanomaterials 2014, 4, 355-371.

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