Special Issue "Safety and Biocompatibility of Metallic Nanoparticles"

A special issue of Nanomaterials (ISSN 2079-4991).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 7 July 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Ivana Vinkovic Vrcek
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Guest Editor
Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Analytical Toxicology and Mineral Metabolism Unit, Ksavreska cesta 2, Zagreb, Croatia
Interests: Nanomaterials, nanomedicine, nanosafety, nano-bio interactions, biotransformations, biocompatibility, toxicokinetics/toxicodynamics, ecotoxicity, risk assessment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nanotechnology, as one of the six key enabling technologies (KETs), boosted the development and application of engineered nanomaterials to meet unmet human needs. The increased relative surface area and the quantum effects of materials at the nanoscale provoke specific and peculiar properties of nanomaterials including wide range of optoelectronic, magnetic, mechanical, photo responsive, catalytic properties, reactivity, and strength that are significantly different from the bulk materials. Among many different types of nanomaterials, metallic nanoparticles (mNPs) are very attractive owing to their simple synthesis and facile surface chemistry that supports wide variety of functionalization features for diverse applications. In spite of huge number of reports and studies published on different aspects of mNPs and enormous investments in nanotechnology, there is still gap between their application and safety assessments. Thus, current innovation processes and risk management for NMs have to be enhanced by the Safe-by-Design (SbD) concept, which is designed to ensure safety for humans and the environment by identifying timely all risks related to the innovation processes and value chain of nanomaterials.

This Special Issue aims to cover all aspects of safe production, safe use and safe disposal of mNPs promoting implementation of the SbD concept. We welcome contributions on

  • methodologies for design and production of less hazardous mNPs using combination of non-testing predictions together with high-throughput screening tools,
  • characterisation of mNPs providing the key characteristics that influence the release, exposure, behaviour, effects and subsequent environmental and/or human risks of different forms, types and sizes of mNPs;
  • transformation pattern and fate of mNPs in different biological or environmental compartments encompassing the conditions, extent and rate of change of mNPs structure and stability throughout the different stages of their life cycle;
  • dose metrics that define a particular response of mNPs in certain biological or environmental system;
  • evaluation of exposure risk for workers, consumers and environment by identifying actions for risk mitigation such as life cycle assessment and risk vs. benefit ratio profiling for mNPs.

Dr. Ivana Vinkovic Vrcek
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nanomaterials is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Safe-by-design
  • physico-chemical properties
  • transformation
  • nano-bio interactions
  • biocompatibility
  • safety
  • life-cycle analysis
  • risk assessment

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Gold Nanoparticles Induce Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis in Human Kidney Cells
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(5), 995; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10050995 - 22 May 2020
Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are highly attractive for biomedical applications. Therefore, several in vitro and in vivo studies have addressed their safety evaluation. Nevertheless, there is a lack of knowledge regarding their potential detrimental effect on human kidney. To evaluate this effect, AuNPs with [...] Read more.
Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are highly attractive for biomedical applications. Therefore, several in vitro and in vivo studies have addressed their safety evaluation. Nevertheless, there is a lack of knowledge regarding their potential detrimental effect on human kidney. To evaluate this effect, AuNPs with different sizes (13 nm and 60 nm), shapes (spheres and stars), and coated with 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid (MUA) or with sodium citrate, were synthesized, characterized, and their toxicological effects evaluated 24 h after incubation with a proximal tubular cell line derived from normal human kidney (HK-2). After exposure, viability was assessed by the MTT assay. Changes in lysosomal integrity, mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), reactive species (ROS/RNS), intracellular glutathione (total GSH), and ATP were also evaluated. Apoptosis was investigated through the evaluation of the activity of caspases 3, 8 and 9. Overall, the tested AuNPs targeted mainly the mitochondria in a concentration-dependent manner. The lysosomal integrity was also affected but to a lower extent. The smaller 13 nm nanospheres (both citrate- and MUA-coated) proved to be the most toxic among all types of AuNPs, increasing ROS production and decreasing mitochondrial membrane potential (p ≤ 0.01). For the MUA-coated 13 nm nanospheres, these effects were associated also to increased levels of total glutathione (p ≤ 0.01) and enhanced ATP production (p ≤ 0.05). Programmed cell death was detected through the activation of both extrinsic and intrinsic pathways (caspase 8 and 9) (p0.05). We found that the larger 60 nm AuNPs, both nanospheres and nanostars, are apparently less toxic than their smaller counter parts. Considering the results herein presented, it should be taken into consideration that even if renal clearance of the AuNPs is desirable, since it would prevent accumulation and detrimental effects in other organs, a possible intracellular accumulation of AuNPs in kidneys can induce cell damage and later compromise kidney function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Safety and Biocompatibility of Metallic Nanoparticles)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Article Title: DNA-Biofunctionalization of CTAC-capped gold nanocubes
Authors: Nicole Slesiona, Sophie Thamm, Lisa Stolle, Viktor Weißenborn, Philipp Müller, Andrea Csáki, Wolfgang Fritzsche
Abstract: Clinical diagnostics and disease control are fields that strongly depend on technologies for rapid, sensitive, and selective detection of biological or chemical analytes. Nanoparticles have become an integral part in various biomedical detection devices and nanotherapeutics. An increasing focus is aimed towards gold nanoparticles as they express less cytotoxicity, high stability, and hold unique optical properties with the ability of signal transduction of biological recognition events with an enhanced analytical performance. Strong electric field enhancements can be found in close proximity to the nanoparticle that can be exploited to enhance signals for e.g. metal-enhanced fluorescence or Raman spectroscopy. Even stronger field enhancements can be achieved with sharp-edged nanoparticles, which are synthesized with the help of facet blocking agents, such as CTAB/CTAC (cetyltrimethylammonium bromide/chloride). However, chemical modification of the nanoparticle surface is necessary to increase its biocompatibility for analytical applications. Here, a reliable two-step protocol following a ligand exchange with BSPP (bis(p-sulfonatophenyl) phenylphosphine) as the intermediate capping-agent proved to result in the reliable biofunctionalization of CTAC-capped gold nanocubes with thiol-modified DNA. The functionalized nanocubes have been characterized in regard to their electric potential, their plasmonic properties and stability against high concentrations of  magnesium chloride and sodium chloride.

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