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Exposure of the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to Functionalized Polystyrene Latex Nanoparticles: Influence of Surface Charge on Toxicity

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posted on 02.04.2013, 00:00 by Toshiyuki Nomura, Jumpei Miyazaki, Akihisa Miyamoto, Yuta Kuriyama, Hayato Tokumoto, Yasuhiro Konishi
Novel nanoparticles with unique physicochemical characteristics are being developed with increasing frequency, leading to higher probability of nanoparticle release and environmental accumulation. Therefore, it is important to assess the potential environmental and biological adverse effects of nanoparticles. In this study, we investigated the toxicity and behavior of surface-functionalized nanoparticles toward yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). The colony count method and confocal microscopy were used to examine the cytotoxicity of manufactured polystyrene latex (PSL) nanoparticles with various functional groups (amine, carboxyl, sulfate, and nonmodified). S. cerevisiae were exposed to PSL nanoparticles (40 mg/L) dispersed in 5–154 mM NaCl solutions for 1 h. Negatively charged nanoparticles had little or no toxic effect. Interestingly, nanoparticles with positively charged amine groups (p-Amine) were not toxic in 154 mM NaCl, but highly toxic in 5 mM NaCl. Confocal microscopy indicated that in 154 mM NaCl, the p-Amine nanoparticles were internalized by endocytosis, whereas in 5 mM NaCl they covered the dead cell surfaces. This demonstrates that nanoparticle-induced cell death might to be related to their adhesion to cells rather than their internalization. Together, these findings identify important factors in determining nanoparticle toxicity that might affect their impact on the environment and human health.