A Comparative Study of Hollow Copper Sulfide Nanoparticles and Hollow Gold Nanospheres on Degradability and Toxicity

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Gold and copper nanoparticles have been widely investigated for photothermal therapy of cancer. However, degradability and toxicity of these nanoparticles remain concerns. Here, we compare hollow CuS nanoparticles (HCuSNPs) with hollow gold nanospheres (HAuNS) in similar particle sizes and morphology following intravenous administration to mice. The injected pegylated HCuSNPs (PEG-HCuSNPs) are eliminated through both hepatobiliary (67 percentage of injected dose, %ID) and renal (23 %ID) excretion within one month post injection. By contrast, 3.98 %ID of Au is excreted from liver and kidney within one month after i.v. injection of pegylated HAuNS (PEG-HAuNS). Comparatively, PEG-HAuNS are almost non-metabolizable, while PEGHCuSNPs are considered biodegradable nanoparticles. PEG-HCuSNPs do not show significant toxicity by histological or blood chemistry analysis. Principal component analysis and 2-D peak distribution plots of data from matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF IMS) of liver tissues demonstrated a reversible change in the proteomic profile in mice receiving PEG-HCuSNPs. This is attributed to slow dissociation of Cu ion from CuS nanoparticles along with effective Cu elimination for maintaining homeostasis. Nonetheless, an irreversible change in the proteomic profile is observed in the liver from mice receiving PEG-HAuNS by analysis of MALDI-TOF IMS data, probably due to the nonmetabolizability of Au. This finding correlates with the elevated serum lactate dehydrogenase at 3 months after PEG-HAuNS injection, indicating potential long-term toxicity. The comparative results between the two types of nanoparticles will advance the development of HCuSNPs as a new class of biodegradable inorganic nanomaterials for photothermal therapy.


This article was originally published in ACS Nano, volume 7, issue 10, in 2013. DOI: 10.1021/nn403202w


American Chemical Society