Cytotoxicity and cellular uptake of different sized gold nanoparticles in ovarian cancer cells

Dhiraj Kumar, Isha Mutreja, Kenny Chitcholtan, Peter Sykes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Nanomedicine has advanced the biomedical field with the availability of multifunctional nanoparticles (NPs) systems that can target a disease site enabling drug delivery and helping to monitor the disease. In this paper, we synthesised the gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) with an average size 18, 40, 60 and 80 nm, and studied the effect of nanoparticles size, concentration and incubation time on ovarian cancer cells namely, OVCAR5, OVCAR8, and SKOV3. The size measured by transmission electron microscopy images was slightly smaller than the hydrodynamic diameter; measured size by ImageJ as 14.55, 38.13, 56.88 and 78.56 nm. The cellular uptake was significantly controlled by the AuNPs size, concentration, and the cell type. The nanoparticles uptake increased with increasing concentration, and 18 and 80 nm AuNPs showed higher uptake ranging from 1.3 to 5.4 μg depending upon the concentration and cell type. The AuNPs were associated with a temporary reduction in metabolic activity, but metabolic activity remained more than 60% for all sample types; NPs significantly affected the cell proliferation activity in first 12 h. The increase in nanoparticle size and concentration induced the production of reactive oxygen species in 24 h.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number475101
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 3 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Authors would like to thank Genesis Oncology Trust (GOT-1549-RPG) and Otago School of Medicine Science (OSMS) Collaborative Funding (UO-13489) for financial support. Also, we would like to thank Cancer Society of New Zealand (UO-15064) for financial support for partial analysis of samples using ICP-MS at Chemistry department, University of Otago, Dunedin. We would like to acknowledge Professor Maan Alkaisi at University of Canterbury. We would like to thank Rayleen for access to Malvern Nano ZetaSizer system at School of Chemical Engineering, University of Canterbury, NZ.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Gold nanoparticle
  • cell proliferation
  • cellular uptake
  • cytotoxicity
  • darkfield imaging
  • ovarian cancer
  • reactive oxygen species


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