Engineered nanoparticles induce cell apoptosis: potential for cancer therapy

Dan-Dan Ma and Wan-Xi Yang _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:40882-40903. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8553

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Dan-Dan Ma1 and Wan-Xi Yang1

1 The Sperm Laboratory, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

Correspondence to:

Wan-Xi Yang, email:

Keywords: engineered nanoparticles, cytotoxicity, apoptosis, cancer cells, ENP characteristics

Received: February 02, 2016 Accepted: March 28, 2016 Published: April 02, 2016


Engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) have been widely applied in industry, commodities, biology and medicine recently. The potential for many related threats to human health has been highlighted. ENPs with their sizes no larger than 100 nm are able to enter the human body and accumulate in organs such as brain, liver, lung, testes, etc, and cause toxic effects. Many references have studied ENP effects on the cells of different organs with related cell apoptosis noted. Understanding such pathways towards ENP induced apoptosis may aid in the design of effective cancer targeting ENP drugs. Such ENPs can either have a direct effect towards cancer cell apoptosis or can be used as drug delivery agents. Characteristics of ENPs, such as sizes, shape, forms, charges and surface modifications are all seen to play a role in determining their toxicity in target cells. Specific modifications of such characteristics can be applied to reduce ENP bioactivity and thus alleviate unwanted cytotoxicity, without affecting the intended function. This provides an opportunity to design ENPs with minimum toxicity to non-targeted cells.

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