Multiple cytotoxic and genotoxic effects induced in vitro by differently shaped copper oxide nanomaterials

Sebastiano Di Bucchianico, Maria Rita Fabbrizi, Superb K Misra, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Deborah Berhanu, Paul Reip, Enrico Bergamaschi, Lucia Migliore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


In nanotoxicology, the capacity of nanoparticles of the same composition but different shape to induce cytotoxicity and genotoxicity is largely unknown. A series of cytotoxic and genotoxic responses following in vitro exposure to differently shaped CuO nanoparticles (CuO NPs, mass concentrations from 0.1 to 100 μg/ml) were assessed in murine macrophages RAW 264.7 and in peripheral whole blood from healthy volunteers. Cytotoxicity, cytostasis and genotoxicity were evaluated by the colorimetric assay of formazan reduction [3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT)] and by the cytokinesis-block micronucleus cytome (CBMN Cyt) assay. The comet assay was applied for detecting DNA strand breaks and information on oxidative damage to DNA (oxidised purines and pyrimidines). The MTT assay revealed a decrease in cell viability in RAW 264.7 cells and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) with significant dose-effect relationships for the different CuO NP shapes. The comet assay revealed a dose-dependent increase in primary DNA damage, and a significant increase in oxidative damage to DNA was also detectable, as well as increased frequency of micronuclei in binucleated cells, often in a dose-related manner. Proliferative activity, cytotoxicity and apoptotic markers showed a significant trend in the two cell types. Finally, we have differentiated clastogenic events from aneugenic events by fluorescence in situ hybridisation with human and murine pancentromeric probes, revealing for the first time characteristic aneugenic responses related to the shape of CuO NPs and cell type. Independently of size and shape, all CuO NPs revealed a clear-cut cytotoxic and genotoxic potential; this suggests that CuO NPs are good candidates for positive controls in nanotoxicology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-99
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Aneuploidy
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Copper
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Mitosis
  • Nanoparticles
  • Particle Size


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