The unique physicochemical characteristics of nanoparticles have recently gained increasing attention in a diverse set of applications, particularly in the biomedical field. However, concerns about the potential toxicological effects of nanoparticles remain, as they have a higher tendency to generate excessive amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Due to the strong oxidation potential, the excess ROS induced by nanoparticles can result in the damage of biomolecules and organelle structures and lead to protein oxidative carbonylation, lipid peroxidation, DNA/RNA breakage, and membrane structure destruction, which further cause necrosis, apoptosis, or even mutagenesis. This review aims to give a summary of the mechanisms and responsible for ROS generation by nanoparticles at the cellular level and provide insights into the mechanics of ROS-mediated biotoxicity. We summarize the literature on nanoparticle toxicity and suggest strategies to optimize nanoparticles for biomedical applications.
Keywords: Biotoxicity; Nanoparticles; Oxidative stress; Reactive oxygen species.