Nanoparticles have received much attention recently due to their use in cancer therapy. Studies have shown that different metal oxide nanoparticles induce cytotoxicity in cancer cells, but not in normal cells. In some cases, such anticancer activity has been demonstrated to hold for the nanoparticle alone or in combination with different therapies, such as photocatalytic therapy or some anticancer drugs. Zinc oxide nanoparticles have been shown to have this activity alone or when loaded with an anticancer drug, such as doxorubicin. Other nanoparticles that show cytotoxic effects on cancer cells include cobalt oxide, iron oxide and copper oxide. The antitumor mechanism could work through the generation of reactive oxygen species or apoptosis and necrosis, among other possibilities. Here, we review the most significant antitumor results obtained with different metal oxide nanoparticles.
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