Nuclear Uptake of Gold Nanoparticles Deduced Using Dual-Angle X-Ray Fluorescence Mapping

Aaron McCulloch, Lindsey Bennie, Jonathan A. Coulter, Helen O. McCarthy, Brendan Dromey, David R. Grimes, Paul Quinn, Balder Villagomez-Bernabe, Frederick Currell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Studies into the cell nucleus' incorporation of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are often limited by ambiguities arising from conventional imaging techniques. Indeed, it is suggested that to date there is no unambiguous imaging evidence for such uptake in whole cells, particularly at the single nanoparticle level. This shortcoming in understanding exists despite the nucleus being the most important subcellular compartment in eukaryotes and gold being the most commonly used metal nanoparticle in medical applications. Here, dual-angle X-ray flouresence is used to show individually resolved nanoparticles within the cell nucleus, finding them to be well separated and 79% of the intranuclear population to be monodispersed. These findings have important implications for nanomedicine, illustrated here through a specific exemplar of the predicted enhancement of radiation effects arising from the observed AuNPs, finding intranuclear dose enhancements spanning nearly five orders of magnitude.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1900140
JournalParticle and Particle Systems Characterization
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2019


  • gold nanoparticles
  • nanomedicine
  • nuclear uptake
  • X-ray fluorescence
  • X-ray microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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