Reactivity of inorganic nanoparticles in biological environments: Insights into nanotoxicity mechanisms

E. Casals, E. Gonzalez, V. F. Puntes

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

    63 Citations (Scopus)


    A deeper understanding of the behaviour of inorganic nanoparticles in biological media is needed not only to fully control and develop the potential of these materials but also to increase knowledge of the physical chemistry of inorganic materials when their morphology approaches that of molecular entities. Although this knowledge and control is not yet entirely acquired, industry and society are already using nanomaterials in greater quantities and in consumer products. As normally happens when something new arrives in society, the interest in the broader implications of this emerging technology has grown together with unfounded nanoeuphoria and nanoscares. In this context, only by understanding the mechanisms of the nano-bio interaction will it be possible to safely develop nanotechnology. In this review, we discuss on how nanoparticles behave once they are naturally or intentionally produced and are exposed to humans and the environment. The response of nanoparticles inside organisms or released to the environment is complex and diverse, and depends on a variety of parameters involved. Mainly, they may (i) be aggregated into microscopic particles or embedded in exposed materials; (ii) the surfaces of the nanoparticles, which determine their bioactivity, experience constant modifications; and (iii) nanoparticles may corrode and dissolve or they can suffer morphological modifications. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number443001
    JournalJournal Physics D: Applied Physics
    Issue number44
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2012


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