Gold nanoparticle cellular uptake, toxicity and radiosensitisation in hypoxic conditions

Suneil Jain*, Jonathan A. Coulter, Karl T. Butterworth, Alan R. Hounsell, Stephen J. McMahon, Wendy B. Hyland, Mark F. Muir, Glenn R. Dickson, Kevin M. Prise, Fred J. Currell, David G. Hirst, Joe M. O'Sullivan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Background and purpose: Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) are novel agents that have been shown to cause radiosensitisation in vitro and in vivo. Tumour hypoxia is associated with radiation resistance and reduced survival in cancer patients. The interaction of GNPs with cells in hypoxia is explored.

Materials and methods: GNP uptake, localization, toxicity and radiosensitisation were assessed in vitro under oxic and hypoxic conditions.

Results: GNP cellular uptake was significantly lower under hypoxic than oxic conditions. A significant reduction in cell proliferation in hypoxic MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells exposed to GNPs was observed. In these cells significant radiosensitisation occurred in normoxia and moderate hypoxia. However, in near anoxia no significant sensitisation occurred.

Conclusions: GNP uptake occurred in hypoxic conditions, causing radiosensitisation in moderate, but not extreme hypoxia in a breast cancer cell line. These findings may be important for the development of GNPs for cancer therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-347
Number of pages6
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Radiosensitisers
  • Toxicity
  • Hypoxia


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