Cytotoxicity and Cell Membrane Depolarization Induced by Aluminum Oxide Nanoparticles in Human Lung Epithelial Cells A549


The cytotoxicity of 13 and 22 nm aluminum oxide (Al2O3) nanoparticles was investigated in cultured human bronchoalveolar carcinoma-derived cells (A549) and compared with 20 nm CeO2 and 40 nm TiO2 nanoparticles as positive and negative control, respectively. Exposure to both Al2O3 nanoparticles for 24 h at 10 and 25 µg mL-1 doses significantly decreased cell viability compared with control. However, the cytotoxicity of 13 and 22 nm Al2O3 nanoparticles had no difference at 5–25 µg mL-1 dose range. The cytotoxicity of both Al2O3 nanoparticles were higher than negative control TiO2 nanoparticles but lower than positive control CeO2 nanoparticles (TiO2 < Al2O3 < CeO2). A real-time single cell imaging system was employed to study the cell membrane potential change caused by Al2O3 and CeO2 nanoparticles using a membrane potential sensitive fluorescent probe DiBAC4(3). Exposure to the 13 nm Al2O3 nanoparticles resulted in more significant depolarization than the 30 nm Al2O3 particles. On the other hand, the 20 nm CeO2 particles, the most toxic, caused less significant depolarization than both the 13 and 22 nm Al2O3. Factors such as exposure duration, surface chemistry, and other mechanisms may contribute differently between cytotoxicity and membrane depolarization.


Biological Sciences

Second Department

Materials Science and Engineering

Third Department


Keywords and Phrases

Alumina; Aluminum; Biological Organs; Cell Membranes; Cells; Cytology; Cytotoxicity; Depolarization; Light Metals; Nanostructured Materials; Nanostructures; Optoelectronic Devices; Oxides; Polarization; Surface Chemistry; Turbulent Flow; Al2O3 Particles; Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3); Aluminum Oxides; Cell Imaging; Cell Viabilities; CeO2 Nanoparticles; Dose Ranges; Exposure Durations; Fluorescent Probes; Human Lungs; Lung Cancer Cells (A549); Membrane Depolarizations; Membrane Potentials; Negative Controls; Single Cells; Tio2 Nanoparticles; Nanoparticles; Cancer; Membrane; Toxicity

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2008 Taylor & Francis, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 2008