Nano sized materials have unique characteristics that facilitate new technical applications but may also render them more toxic than similar materials of larger particle size. The small size of nano materials can be expected to result in increased surface reactivity, improved uptake to cells and cell nuclei, interference with macromolecules in nano size, enhanced production of reactive oxygen species, and accelerated dissolution inside the cell. All these features may influence the ability of nanomaterials to damage the genome (genotoxicity).
There are several examples of nanoparticles showing a higher genotoxicity than larger particles of the same chemical composition but few on purely nano specific genotoxic effects that would be mechanistically unique. This does not, however, mean that such phenomena could not exist. Genotoxicity assays have originally been developed for soluble chemicals, and testing of small particles presents a number of problems that are not easily dealt with. In vitro genotoxicity assays are, in principle, able to detect primary genotoxicity, but do not show secondary genotoxicity (associated with effects mediated by inflammatory cells) which is considered to be important in particle carcinogenesis in vivo.
This presentation will discuss this issues with examples of some poorly soluble and partial soluble metallic nanoparticles and fibrous nanotubes.
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