Fresta CG, Chakraborty A, Wijesinghe MB, Amorini AM, Tavazzi B, Lazzarino G*, Lunte SM, Caraci F, Dhar P*, Caruso G* (2018) Cell. Death. Dis., 9:245. [*corresponding authors]

Pubmed: doi: 10.1038/s41419-018-0280-z


Engineered nanoparticles are finding a wide spectrum of biomedical applications, including drug delivery and capacity to trigger cytotoxic phenomena, potentially useful against tumor cells. The full understanding of their biosafety and interactions with cell processes is mandatory. Using microglial (BV-2) and alveolar basal epithelial (A549) cells, in this study we determined the effects of engineered carbon nanodiamonds (ECNs) on cell viability, nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, as well as on energy metabolism. Particularly, we initially measured decrease in cell viability as a function of increasing ECNs doses, finding similar cytotoxic ECN effects in the two cell lines. Subsequently, using apparently non-cytotoxic ECN concentrations (2 µg/mL causing decrease in cell number < 5%) we determined NO and ROS production, and measured the concentrations of compounds related to energy metabolism, mitochondrial functions, oxido-reductive reactions, and antioxidant defences. We found that in both cell lines non-cytotoxic ECN concentrations increased NO and ROS production with sustained oxidative/nitrosative stress, and caused energy metabolism imbalance (decrease in high energy phosphates and nicotinic coenzymes) and mitochondrial malfunctioning (decrease in ATP/ADP ratio).These results underline the importance to deeply investigate the molecular and biochemical changes occurring upon the interaction of ECNs (and nanoparticles in general) with living cells, even at apparently non-toxic concentration. Since the use of ECNs in biomedical field is attracting increasing attention the complete evaluation of their biosafety, toxicity and/or possible side effects both in vitro and in vivo is mandatory before these highly promising tools might find the correct application.