Evaluation of topically applied copper(II) oxide nanoparticle cytotoxicity in human skin organ culture

Dror Cohen, Yoram Soroka, Zeev Ma'or, Miriam Oron, Meital Portugal-Cohen, François Menahem Brégégère, Deborah Berhanu, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Noam Hai, Yoram Milner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing use of nano-sized materials in our environment, and in many consumer products, dictates new safety concerns. In particular, adequate experimental models are needed to evaluate skin toxicity of metal oxide ions, commonly found in cosmetic and dermatologic preparations. We have addressed the biological effects of topically applied copper oxide (CuO) nanoparticles in human skin organ cultures, using light and electron microscopy, and biochemical tests. Nanoparticles were more toxic than micro-sized particles, and their effects were stronger when supplied in growth medium than in topical application. Still topically applied CuO nanoparticles induced inflammatory cytokine secretion and necrosis, especially in epidermis deprived of its protective cornea. Since nanoparticle penetration was not seen, we propose that they may adhere to skin surface, react with the local acidic environment, and generate soluble ions that make their way to inner sites. This work illustrates the abilities of skin organ culture to evaluate the biological effects of topically-applied materials on skin in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-8
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology in Vitro
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Caspase 3
  • Cell Survival
  • Copper
  • Cytokines
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metal Nanoparticles
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Skin


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