We report the synthesis of dextran-coated iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (DIO-NPs) with spherical shape and uniform size distribution as well as their accumulation and toxic effects on Jurkat cells up to 72 h. The characterization of dextran-coated maghemite nanoparticles was done by X-ray diffraction and dynamic light scattering analyses, transmission electron microscopy imaging, attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy, magnetic hysteresis, and relaxometry measurements. The quantification of DIO-NPs intracellular uptake showed a progressive accumulation of iron as a function of time and dose accompanied by additional lysosome formation and an increasing darkening exhibited by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. The cytotoxicity assays revealed a decrease of cell viability and a loss of membrane integrity in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Exposure to DIO-NPs determined an increase in reactive oxygen species level up to 72 h. In the first two days of exposure, the level of reduced glutathione decreased and the amount of malondyaldehyde increased, but at the end of the experiment, their concentrations returned to control values. These nanoparticles could be used as contrast agents for MRI but several parameters concerning their interaction with the cells should be taken into consideration for a safe utilization.
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