Since graphene nanoparticles are attracting increasing interest in relation to medical applications, it is important to understand their potential effects on humans. In the present study, we prepared graphene oxide (GO) nanoribbons by oxidative unzipping of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and analyzed their toxicity in two human neuroblastoma cell lines. Neuroblastoma is the most common solid neoplasia in children. The hallmark of these tumors is the high number of different clinical variables, ranging from highly metastatic, rapid progression and resistance to therapy to spontaneous regression or change into benign ganglioneuromas. Patients with neuroblastoma are grouped into different risk groups that are characterized by different prognosis and different clinical behavior. Relapse and mortality in high risk patients is very high in spite of new advances in chemotherapy. Cell lines, obtained from neuroblastomas have different genotypic and phenotypic features. The cell lines SK-N-BE(2) and SH-SY5Y have different genetic mutations and tumorigenicity. Cells were exposed to low doses of GO for different times in order to investigate whether GO was a good vehicle for biological molecules delivering individualized therapy. Cytotoxicity in both cell lines was studied by measuring cellular oxidative stress (ROS), mitochondria membrane potential, expression of lysosomial proteins and cell growth. GO uptake and cytoplasmic distribution of particles were studied by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) for up to 72 h. The results show that GO at low concentrations increased ROS production and induced autophagy in both neuroblastoma cell lines within a few hours of exposure, events that, however, are not followed by growth arrest or death. For this reason, we suggest that the GO nanoparticle can be used for therapeutic delivery to the brain tissue with minimal effects on healthy cells.
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