Safety of Gold Nanoparticles: From In Vitro to In Vivo Testing Array Checklist

Joana Lopes, Tânia Ferreira-Gonçalves, Lia Ascensão, Ana S. Viana, Lina Carvalho, José Catarino, Pedro Faísca, Abel Oliva, Dragana P.C. de Barros, Cecília M.P. Rodrigues, Maria Manuela Gaspar, Catarina Pinto Reis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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In recent years, gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have aroused the interest of many researchers due to their unique physicochemical and optical properties. AuNPs are being explored in a variety of biomedical fields, either in diagnostics or therapy, particularly for localized thermal ablation of cancer cells after light irradiation. Besides the promising therapeutic potential of AuNPs, their safety constitutes a highly important issue for any medicine or medical device. For this reason, in the present work, the production and characterization of physicochemical properties and morphology of AuNPs coated with two different materials (hyaluronic and oleic acids (HAOA) and bovine serum albumin (BSA)) were firstly performed. Based on the above importantly referred issue, the in vitro safety of developed AuNPs was evaluated in healthy keratinocytes, human melanoma, breast, pancreatic and glioblastoma cancer cells, as well as in a three-dimensional human skin model. Ex vivo and in vivo biosafety assays using, respectively, human red blood cells and Artemia salina were also carried out. HAOA-AuNPs were selected for in vivo acute toxicity and biodistribution studies in healthy Balb/c mice. Histopathological analysis showed no significant signs of toxicity for the tested formulations. Overall, several techniques were developed in order to characterize the AuNPs and evaluate their safety. All these results support their use for biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1120
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • cancer
  • ex vivo models
  • gold nanoparticles
  • in vitro models
  • in vivo models
  • nanomedicine
  • nanotoxicology


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