Growth of a Novel Nanostructured ZnO Urchin: Control of Cytotoxicity and Dissolution of the ZnO Urchin

Imani R, Drašler B, Kononenko V, Romih T, Eleršič K, Jelenc J, Junkar I, Remškar M, Drobne D, Kralj-Iglič V, Iglič A
[ pdf ] [ site ] Nanoscale Research Letters, 2015

The applications of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires (NWs) in implantable wireless devices, such as diagnostic nanobiosensors and nanobiogenerators, have recently attracted enormous attention due to their unique properties. However, for these implantable nanodevices, the biocompatibility and the ability to control the behaviour of cells in contact with ZnO NWs are demanded for the success of these implantable devices, but to date, only a few contrasting results from their biocompatibility can be found. There is a need for more research about the biocompatibility of ZnO nanostructures and the adhesion and viability of cells on the surface of ZnO nanostructures. Here, we introduce synthesis of a new nature-inspired nanostructured ZnO urchin, with the dimensions of the ZnO urchin’s acicula being controllable. To examine the biocompatibility and behaviour of cells in contact with the ZnO urchin, the Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cell line was chosen as an in vitro experimental model. The results of the viability assay indicated that, compared to control, the number of viable cells attached to the surface of the ZnO urchin and its surrounding area were reduced. The measurements of the Zn contents of cell media confirmed ZnO dissolution, which suggests that the ZnO dissolution in cell culture medium could lead to cytotoxicity. A purposeful reduction of ZnO cytotoxicity was achieved by surface coating of the ZnO urchin with poly(vinylidene fluorid-co-hexafluoropropylene) (PVDF-HFP), which changed the material matrix to slow the Zn ion release and consequently reduce the cytotoxicity of the ZnO urchin without reducing its functionality.