Transplacental clastogenic and epigenetic effects of gold nanoparticles in mice

Roumen Balansky, Mariagrazia Longobardi, Gancho Ganchev, Marietta Iltcheva, Nikolay Nedyalkov, Petar Atanasov, Reneta Toshkova, Silvio De Flora, Alberto Izzotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The broad application of nanotechnology in medicine, biology, and pharmacology is leading to a dramatic increase of the risk of direct contact of nanoproducts, among which gold nanoparticles (AuNP), with the human organism. The present study aimed at evaluating in vivo the genotoxicity of AuNPs with average size of 40. nm and 100. nm. A single intraperitoneal treatment of adult male and female Swiss mice (strain H) with AuNPs, at a dose of 3.3. mg/kg body weight, had no effect on the frequency of micronucleated polychromatic erythrocytes (MN PCEs) in bone marrow. Conversely, the transplacental treatment with AuNP-100. nm, but not with AuNP-40. nm, applied intraperitoneally at a dose of 3.3. mg/kg to pregnant mice on days 10, 12, 14, and 17 of gestation, resulted in a significant increase in the frequency of MN PCEs in both liver and peripheral blood of mouse fetuses. In parallel, the same treatment with AuNP-100. nm, but not with AuNP-40. nm, produced significant changes in microRNA expression. In particular, out of 1281 mouse microRNAs analyzed, 28 were dys-regulated more than two-fold and to a statistically significant extent in fetus lung, and 5 were up-regulated in fetal liver. Let-7a and miR-183 were significantly up-regulated in both organs. The data presented herein demonstrate for the first time the transplacental size-dependent clastogenic and epigenetic effects of AuNPs in mouse fetus, thus highlighting new aspects concerning the putative genotoxicity of AuNPs during a vulnerable period of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Clastogenicity
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • MicroRNA expression
  • Mouse fetus
  • Transplacental

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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