Gold nanoparticles, a common ingredient in many everyday items, has now been found to accelerate aging and wrinkling, slow wound healing, inhibit adipose (fat) storage, and to cause the onset of diabetes. There’s a degree of humor to this when you consider that gold nanoparticles are a common ingredient in many personal care products, including some products that claim to prevent wrinkles. Gold nanoparticles are also commonly used in drug delivery systems, and as an MRI contrast agent.
The research was done by testing “the impact of nanoparticles in vitro on multiple types of cells, including adipose (fat) tissue, to determine whether their basic functions were disrupted when exposed to very low doses of nanoparticles. Subcutaneous adipose tissue acts as insulation from heat and cold, functions as a reserve of nutrients, and is found around internal organs for padding, in yellow bone marrow and in breast tissue.”
What the researchers found was that “the human adipose-derived stromal cells — a type of adult stem cells — were penetrated by the gold nanoparticles almost instantly and that the particles accumulated in the cells with no obvious pathway for elimination. The presence of the particles disrupted multiple cell functions, such as movement; replication (cell division); and collagen contraction; processes that are essential in wound healing.”
But there were other even more significant effects, including the “disturbing” finding “that the particles interfered with genetic regulation, RNA expression and inhibited the ability to differentiate into mature adipocytes or fat cells.”
“Reductions caused by gold nanoparticles can result in systemic changes to the body,” stated lead researcher Professor Tatsiana Mironava, a visiting professor at Stony Brook University. “Since they have been considered inert and essentially harmless, it was assumed that pure gold nanoparticles would also be safe. Evidence to the contrary is beginning to emerge.”
This research is some of the first “to demonstrate the impact of nanoparticles on adult stem cells, which are the cells our body uses for continual organ regeneration. It revealed that adipose derived stromal cells involved in regeneration of multiple organs, including skin, nerve, bone, and hair, ignored appropriate cues and failed to differentiate when exposed to nanoparticles. The presence of gold nanoparticles also reduced adiponectin, a protein involved in regulating glucose levels and fatty acid breakdown, which helps to regulate metabolism.”
“We have learned that careful consideration and the choice of size, concentration and the duration of the clinical application of gold nanoparticles is warranted,” said Professor Mironava. “The good news is that when the nanoparticles were removed, normal functions were eventually restored.”
“Nanotechnology is continuing to be at the cutting edge of science research and has opened new doors in energy and materials science,” said co-author, Miriam Rafailovich, PhD, Chief Scientist of the Advanced Energy Center and Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stony Brook. “Progress comes with social responsibility and ensuring that new technologies are environmentally sustainable. These results are very relevant to achieving these goals.”
The new research was just published in the journal Nanotoxicology.