Whole cell based electrical impedance sensing approach for a rapid nanotoxicity assay

Nanotechnology. 2010 Aug 6;21(31):315103. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/21/31/315103. Epub 2010 Jul 12.


A whole cell based biosensor for rapid real-time testing of human and environmental toxicity of nanoscale materials is reported. Recent studies measuring nanoparticle cytotoxicity in vitro provide a final measurement of toxicity to a cell culture overlooking the ongoing cytotoxic effects of the nanoparticles over the desired timeframe. An array biosensor capable of performing multiple cytotoxicity assays simultaneously was designed to address the need for a consistent method to measure real-time assessments of toxicity. The impedimetric response of human lung fibroblasts (CCL-153) and rainbow trout gill epithelial cells (RTgill-W1) when exposed to gold and silver nanoparticles (AuNPs, AgNPs), single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and cadmium oxide (CdO) was tested. Exposure to CdO particles exhibited the fastest rate of cytotoxicity and demonstrated the biosensor's ability to monitor toxicity instantaneously in real time. Advantages of the present method include shorter run times, easier usage, and multi-sample analysis leading to a method that can monitor the kinetic effects of nanoparticle toxicity continuously over a desired timeframe.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosensing Techniques / economics
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods*
  • Cadmium Compounds / adverse effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cytotoxins / adverse effects*
  • Electric Impedance
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / cytology*
  • Gills / cytology
  • Gold / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Lung / cytology
  • Nanoparticles / adverse effects*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / adverse effects*
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss
  • Oxides / adverse effects
  • Silver / adverse effects


  • Cadmium Compounds
  • Cytotoxins
  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Oxides
  • cadmium oxide
  • Silver
  • Gold