Rod-shaped iron oxide nanoparticles are more toxic than sphere-shaped nanoparticles to murine macrophage cells

Jang Han Lee, Jae Eun Ju, Byung Il Kim, Pyo June Pak, Eun Kyung Choi, Hoi Seon Lee, Namhyun Chung

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93 Citations (Scopus)


Variable sizes of nanoparticles, ranging from nano to micro scale, are of toxicological interest. In the present study, the authors hypothesized that, in addition to the size, the shape of iron oxide (Fe2O3) nanoparticles is a major factor that contributes to particle cytotoxicity. Cytotoxicity to mouse macrophage cells (RAW 264.7) was investigated using 3 different particles: micro-sized Fe2O3 (M-Fe2O3), nano-sized Fe2O3 (N-Fe2O3), and rod-shaped Fe2O3 (R-Fe2O3). Whereas M-Fe2O3 and N-Fe2O3 were located in the vacuole as aggregates, R-Fe2O3 was often spread throughout the cytoplasm. The extent of cytotoxicity measured by the water soluble tetrazolium (WST-1) assay was in the order R-Fe2O3≈N-Fe2O3>M-Fe2O3, whereas the extent revealed by the lactate dehydrogenase assay was in the order R-Fe2O3 >> N-Fe2O3≈M-Fe2O3. In addition, the degree of tumor necrosis factor-α and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was in the order of R-Fe2O3>N-Fe2O3>M-Fe2O3. In addition, a much higher extent of necrosis was associated with the presence of R-Fe2O3. These results suggest that the higher degree of necrosis due to R-Fe2O3 is correlated with both the higher degree of membrane damage and ROS production by R-Fe2O3 compared with the results of the other Fe2O3 particles. These results also showed that the degree of cytotoxicity of nanoparticles should be evaluated based on shape as well as size, because changes in shape and size are accompanied by alterations in surface area, which relate closely to cytotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2759-2766
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 1


  • Cytotoxicity
  • Iron oxide nanoparticle
  • Necrosis
  • Reactive oxygen species (ROS) stress
  • Rod and sphere shape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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