While the advantages of nanomaterials are being increasingly recognized, their potential toxicity is drawing more and more attention and concern. In this study, we explore the toxicity mechanism of 20-30 nm rod-shaped hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles in vitro and in vivo. The nanoparticles were prepared by precipitation and characterized by IR, XRD and TEM. Concentrations of 0 μg mL(-1), 10 μg mL(-1), 100 μg mL(-1), 1 mg mL(-1), and 10 mg mL(-1) were applied to the MC3T3-E1 cells for viability (MTT-test). Based on the characteristic differences of the two methods of cell death, the morphological features of the MC3T3-E1 cell line co-cultured with nano-hydroxyapatite (n-HA) (10 mg mL(-1)) for 24 h were also observed by TEM. Furthermore, important serum biochemical markers and histopathological examinations were used to evaluate the potential toxicological effect of n-HA on the major organs of SD rats injected intraperitoneally with n-HA (33.3 mg kg(-1) body weight). In the results, we found cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in MC3T3-E1 cells co-cultured with n-HA. Moreover, apoptosis but not necrosis was illustrated in liver and renal tissue by using histopathology slices and serum biochemical markers. It suggests that apoptosis may be the possible mechanism of n-HA toxicity and provides a better understanding of the biocompatibility of nanomaterials applied in human bone repair.
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