Nanoparticles may pose threat to liver cells, say scientists

Apr 04, 2006

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are to study the effects of nanoparticles on the liver. In a UK first, the scientists will assess whether nanoparticles –already found in pollution from traffic exhaust, but also used in making household goods such as paint, sunblock, food, cosmetics and clothes– can cause damage to the cells of the liver.

Nanoparticles are atoms and molecules 80,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, with various properties according to their composition, which explains their widespread usage. Airborne nanoparticles present in traffic exhaust are already known to enter the lungs and affect human health.

Scientist Dr Celine Filippi explains: "In experiments carried out elsewhere to mimic environmental exposure, nanoparticles delivered into the lungs crossed the lung barrier and entered the blood. Particles in the blood can reach the liver, amongst other organs. We also know that nanoparticles directly injected into the blood for medical purposes are also likely to end up in the liver.

"We don't yet know if the nanoparticles are safely eliminated from the liver by specialised cells or whether these extremely small particles can enter the liver cells and disrupt their normal functioning. Our research will try to establish whether nanoparticles, which are set to be used increasingly in industry and the manufacture of household goods, can damage the cells of the liver."

Professor Ken Donaldson, Professor of Respiratory Toxicology at the University of Edinburgh said: "We are looking at the new idea that the liver is a target for nanoparticles, and a lot more work needs to be done to assess the levels and impact of nanoparticles reaching the liver."

Source: University of Edinburgh

Explore further: Physicists develop efficient method of signal transmission from nanocomponents

Related Stories

Nano packages for anti-cancer drug delivery

Mar 18, 2015

Cancer stem cells are resistant to chemotherapy and consequently tend to remain in the body even after a course of treatment has finished, where they can often trigger cancer recurrence or metastasis. A new ...

Ingested nanoparticles may damage liver

Aug 12, 2014

(Phys.org) —Nanoparticles in food, sunscreen and other everyday products have many benefits. But Cornell biomedical scientists are finding that at certain doses, the particles might cause human organ damage.

Recommended for you

Artificial muscles get graphene boost

May 22, 2015

Researchers in South Korea have developed an electrode consisting of a single-atom-thick layer of carbon to help make more durable artificial muscles.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.