Cytotoxicity of mesoporous silica nanomaterials

J Inorg Biochem. 2008 Jul;102(7):1416-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2007.12.028. Epub 2008 Jan 9.


We here measure the toxicity of MCM-41, a mesoporous silica nanomaterial, two of its functionalized analogs, AP-T, which has grafted aminopropyl groups and MP-T, which has grafted mercaptopropyl groups, and spherical silica nanoparticles (SiO(2)), toward human neuroblastoma (SK-N-SH) cells. Since the particles studied are not soluble in aqueous media, the metric used to report the cytotoxicity of these materials is a new quantity, Q(50), which is the number of particles required to inhibit normal cell growth by 50%. Determining the number of particles per gram of material applied to the cells required both the calculated and experimentally determined surface areas of these nanomaterials. This study shows that Q(50) increases in the order, MCM-41<MP-T<AP-T approximately SiO(2), showing that on a per particle basis, MCM-41 is the most cytotoxic material studied. For the three mesoporous silica materials in this study, cytotoxicity appears related to the adsorptive surface area of the particle, although the nature of the functional group cannot be ruled out. Silica nanospheres have the lowest surface area of the particles studied but since they exhibit a Q(50) value similar to that of AP-T, shape may also be important in the cytotoxicity of these materials.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Humans
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / therapeutic use
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry
  • Silicon Dioxide / pharmacology*
  • Silicon Dioxide / therapeutic use
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Silicon Dioxide