Gold nanoparticles from personal care products, solar cells and certain drug delivery agents can accelerate ageing and the onset of diabetes, new research has warned.
These particles can also delay wound healing and inhibit fat storage in the body, the report
Researchers led by Tatsiana Mironava, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Molecular Engineering at Stony Brook University, tested the impact of nanoparticles in vitro on multiple types of cells, including adipose (fat) tissue, to determine whether their basic functions were disrupted when exposed to very low doses of nanoparticles.
Subcutaneous adipose tissue acts as insulation from heat and cold, functions as a reserve of nutrients, and is found around internal organs for padding, in yellow bone marrow and in breast tissue.
They discovered that the human adipose-derived stromal cells – a type of adult stem cells – were penetrated by the gold nanoparticles almost instantly and that the particles accumulated in the cells with no obvious pathway for elimination. The presence of the particles disrupted multiple cell functions, such as movement; replication (cell division); and collagen contraction; processes that are essential in wound healing.
According to the researchers, the most disturbing finding was that the particles interfered with genetic regulation, RNA expression and inhibited the ability to differentiate into mature adipocytes or fat cells. “Reductions caused by gold nanoparticles can result in systemic changes to the body,” said Professor Mironava. “Since they have been considered inert and essentially harmless, it was assumed that pure gold nanoparticles would also be safe. Evidence to the contrary is beginning to emerge.”
This study is also the first to demonstrate the impact of nanoparticles on adult stem cells, which are the cells our body uses for continual organ regeneration. It revealed that adipose derived stromal cells involved in regeneration of multiple organs, including skin, nerve, bone, and hair, ignored appropriate cues and failed to differentiate when exposed to nanoparticles. The presence of gold nanoparticles also reduced adiponectin, a protein involved in regulating glucose levels and fatty acid breakdown, which helps to regulate metabolism.
“We have learned that careful consideration and the choice of size, concentration and the duration of the clinical application of gold nanoparticles is warranted,” said Professor Mironava. “The good news is that when the nanoparticles were removed, normal functions were eventually restored.”
The study has been published in the journal Nanotoxicology.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.