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Open Access Research article

Effect of engineered TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles on erythrocytes, platelet-rich plasma and giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles

Metka Šimundić1, Barbara Drašler2, Vid Šuštar3, Jernej Zupanc2, Roman Štukelj4, Darko Makovec5, Deniz Erdogmus6, Henry Hägerstrand7, Damjana Drobne2 and Veronika Kralj-Iglič4*

Author Affiliations

1 Biomedical Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana and Prva-K Klinika za male živali d.o.o. (Prva-K Clinic for Small Animals), Ljubljana, Slovenia

2 Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

3 Laboratory of Clinical Biophysics, Chair of Orthopaedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

4 Biomedical Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

5 J Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia

6 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA

7 Department of Biology, Abo Akademi University, Abo/Turku, Finland

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:7  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-7

Published: 11 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Massive industrial production of engineered nanoparticles poses questions about health risks to living beings. In order to understand the underlying mechanisms, we studied the effects of TiO2 and ZnO agglomerated engineered nanoparticles (EPs) on erythrocytes, platelet-rich plasma and on suspensions of giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles.

Results

Washed erythrocytes, platelet-rich plasma and suspensions of giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles were incubated with samples of EPs. These samples were observed by different microscopic techniques. We found that TiO2 and ZnO EPs adhered to the membrane of washed human and canine erythrocytes. TiO2 and ZnO EPs induced coalescence of human erythrocytes. Addition of TiO2 and ZnO EPs to platelet-rich plasma caused activation of human platelets after 24 hours and 3 hours, respectively, while in canine erythrocytes, activation of platelets due to ZnO EPs occurred already after 1 hour. To assess the effect of EPs on a representative sample of giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles, analysis of the recorded populations was improved by applying the principles of statistical physics. TiO2 EPs did not induce any notable effect on giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles within 50 minutes of incubation, while ZnO EPs induced a decrease in the number of giant unilamelar phospholipid vesicles that was statistically significant (p < 0,001) already after 20 minutes of incubation.

Conclusions

These results indicate that TiO2 and ZnO EPs cause erythrocyte aggregation and could be potentially prothrombogenic, while ZnO could also cause membrane rupture.

Keywords:
Engineered nanoparticles; Erythrocyte shape; Platelet activation; Thrombosis; Cancer; Dog; Phospholipid vesicles; Biological membrane; Titanium; Zinc oxide