Nanoparticles can cause DNA damage across a cellular barrier

G Bhabra, Aman Sood, B Fisher, L Cartwright, M.W Saunders, W.H Evans, A Surprenant, G Lopez-Castejon, S Mann, S.A Davis, L.A Hails, E Ingham, P Verkade, J Lane, K Heesom, R Newson, C.P Case

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

281 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing use of nanoparticles in medicine has raised concerns over their ability to gain access to privileged sites in the body. Here, we show that cobalt-chromium nanoparticles (29.5 +/- 6.3 nm in diameter) can damage human fibroblast cells across an intact cellular barrier without having to cross the barrier. The damage is mediated by a novel mechanism involving transmission of purine nucleotides (such as ATP) and intercellular signalling within the barrier through connexin gap junctions or hemichannels and pannexin channels. The outcome, which includes DNA damage without significant cell death, is different from that observed in cells subjected to direct exposure to nanoparticles. Our results suggest the importance of indirect effects when evaluating the safety of nanoparticles. The potential damage to tissues located behind cellular barriers needs to be considered when using nanoparticles for targeting diseased states.
Translated title of the contributionNanoparticles can cause DNA damage across a cellular barrier
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)876 - 883
Number of pages8
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Other: Published on-line 5th November 2009

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