Nanotoxicity: the growing need for in vivo study

Hans C. Fischer, Warren C. W. Chan

Current Opinion in Biotechnology, Volume 18, Issue 6, December 2007, Pages 565-571 | DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2007.11.008


Nanotoxicology is emerging as an important subdiscipline of nanotechnology. Nanotoxicology refers to the study of the interactions of nanostructures with biological systems with an emphasis on elucidating the relationship between the physical and chemical properties (e.g. size, shape, surface chemistry, composition, and aggregation) of nanostructures with induction of toxic biological responses. In the past five years, a majority of nanotoxicity research has focused on cell culture systems; however, the data from these studies could be misleading and will require verification from animal experiments. In vivo systems are extremely complicated and the interactions of the nanostructures with biological components, such as proteins and cells, could lead to unique biodistribution, clearance, immune response, and metabolism. An understanding of the relationship between the physical and chemical properties of the nanostructure and their in vivo behavior would provide a basis for assessing toxic response and more importantly could lead to predictive models for assessing toxicity. In this review article, we describe the assumptions and challenges in the nanotoxicity field and provide a rationale for in vivo animal studies to assess nanotoxicity.