Gold Nanocluster-Mediated Cellular Death under Electromagnetic Radiation

Anna Cifuentes-Rius, Angela Ivask, Shreya Das, Nuria Pena Auladell, Laura Fabregas , Nicholas Fletcher, Zachary Houston, Kristofer James Thurecht, Nicolas Hans Voelcker

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Gold nanoclusters (Au NCs) have become a promising nanomaterial for cancer therapy because of their biocompatibility and fluorescent properties. In this study, the effect of ultrasmall protein-stabilized 2 nm Au NCs on six types of mammalian cells (fibroblasts, B-lymphocytes, glioblastoma, neuroblastoma, and two types of prostate cancer cells) under electromagnetic radiation is investigated. Cellular association of Au NCs in vitro is concentration-dependent, and Au NCs have low intrinsic toxicity. However, when Au NC-incubated cells are exposed to a 1 GHz electromagnetic field (microwave radiation), cell viability significantly decreases, thus demonstrating that Au NCs exhibit specific microwave-dependent cytotoxicity, likely resulting from localized heating. Upon i.v. injection in mice, Au NCs are still present at 24 h post administration. Considering the specific microwave-dependent cytotoxicity and low intrinsic toxicity, our work suggests the potential of Au NCs as effective and safe nanomedicines for cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41159-41167
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2017


  • cytotoxicity
  • electromagnetic radiation
  • gold nanoclusters
  • hyperthermia
  • microwave frequency

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