The effects of engineered nanoparticles on the cellular structure and growth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
In order to study the effects of nanoparticles (NPs) with different physicochemical properties on cellular viability and structure, Saccharomyces cerevisiae were exposed to different concentrations of TiO2-NPs (1–3 nm), ZnO-NPs (<100 nm), CuO-NPs (<50 nm), their bulk forms, Ag-NPs (10 nm) and single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs). The GreenScreen assay was used to measure cyto- and genotoxicity, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) used to assess ultrastructure. CuO-NPs were highly cytotoxic, reducing the cell density by 80% at 9 cm2/ml, and inducing lipid droplet formation. Cells exposed to Ag-NPs (19 cm2/ml) and TiO2-NPs (147 cm2/ml) contained dark deposits in intracellular vacuoles, the cell wall and vesicles, and reduced cell density (40 and 30%, respectively). ZnO-NPs (8 cm2/ml) caused an increase in the size of intracellular vacuoles, despite not being cytotoxic. SWCNTs did not cause cytotoxicity or significant alterations in ultrastructure, despite high oxidative potential. Two genotoxicity assays, GreenScreen and the comet assay, produced different results and the authors discuss the reasons for this discrepancy. Classical assays of toxicity may not be the most suitable for studying the effects of NPs in cellular systems, and the simultaneous assessment of other measures of the state of cells, such as TEM are highly recommended.