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: Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Colorful nano-guides to the liver

Dec 03, 2014

Jena scientists have been successful in producing highly specific nanoparticles. Depending on the bound dye the particles are guided to the liver or to the kidney and deliver their payload of active ingredients ...

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.

Enhancing RNA interference

Jun 24, 2013

Nanoparticles that deliver short strands of RNA offer a way to treat cancer and other diseases by shutting off malfunctioning genes. Although this approach has shown some promise, scientists are still not ...

Recommended for you

Gold nanorods target cancer cells

Dec 18, 2014

Using tiny gold nanorods, researchers at Swinburne University of Technology have demonstrated a potential breakthrough in cancer therapy.

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.