Effects of copper nanoparticles on cerebral endothelial cells: A size dependent activity


Effects of copper nanoparticles on cerebral endothelial cells: A size dependent activity – proliferation at low concentrations and neurotoxicity at high concentrations.

June 2012, Vol. 7, No. 6, Pages 835-846 , DOI 10.2217/nnm.11.154

Effects of copper nanoparticles on rat cerebral microvessel endothelial cells.

William J Trickler1, Susan M Lantz1, Amanda M Schrand2, Bonnie L Robinson1,Glenn D Newport1, John J Schlager2, Merle G Paule1, William Slikker1,Alexandru S Biris3, Saber M Hussain2 & Syed F Ali*1

* Author for correspondence


The purpose of the current study was to determine whether copper nanoparticles (Cu-NPs) can induce the release of proinflammatory mediators that influence the restrictive characteristics of the blood–brain barrier.

Material & methods:

// Confluent rat brain microvessel endothelial cells (rBMECs) were treated with well-characterized Cu-NPs (40 or 60 nm).

// Cytotoxicity of the Cu-NPs was evaluated by cell proliferation assay (1.5–50 µg/ml).

// The extracellular concentrations of proinflammatory mediators (IL-1β, IL-2, TNF-α and prostaglandin E2) were evaluated by ELISA.


The exposure of Cu-NPs at low concentrations increases cellular proliferation of rBMECs, by contrast, high concentrations induce toxicity.

Prostaglandin E2 release was significantly increased (threefold; 8 h) for Cu-NPs (40 and 60 nm).

The extracellular levels of both TNF-α and IL-1β were significantly elevated following exposure to Cu-NPs. The P-apparent ratio, as an indicator of increased permeability of rBMEC was approximately twofold for Cu-NPs (40 and 60 nm).

Conclusion: These data suggest that

Cu-NPs can induce rBMEC, proliferation at low concentrations and/or induce blood–brain barrier toxicity and potential neurotoxicity at high concentrations.



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