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Reviews on Environmental Health

Editor-in-Chief: Carpenter, David O. / Sly, Peter

Editorial Board Member: Brugge, Doug / Diaz-Barriga, Fernando / Edwards, John W. / Field, R.William / Hales, Simon / Horowitz, Michal / Maibach, H.I. / Shaw, Susan / Stein, Renato / Tao, Shu / Tchounwou, Paul B.

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Genotoxicity of metal nanoparticles

Hong Xie1, 2 / Michael M. Mason2, 3 / 1, 2

1Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME, USA

2Maine Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health and Department of Applied Medical Sciences, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME, USA

3Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Institute for Molecular Biophysics, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA

Corresponding author: Dr. John Pierce Wise Sr., University of Southern Maine, P.O. Box 4000, 96 Falmouth Street, Portland, ME 04104, USA Phone: +1-207-228-8050, Fax: +1-207-228-8057

Citation Information: Reviews on Environmental Health. Volume 26, Issue 4, Pages 251–268, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: 10.1515/REVEH.2011.033, December 2011

Publication History



Nanotechnology is currently used in industry, medicine, and military applications, as well as in more than 300 commercial products. Yet, the same properties that make these particles exciting for technology also make them daunting public health concerns because their toxicity is unknown and relatively unexplored. Increased attention is being placed on the study of metal particle genotoxicity; however, a lot of unknowns remain about their effects and the mechanisms. In this article, we highlight some metal and metal oxide nanoparticles of interest and discuss the current in vivo and in vitro studies of genotoxic effects. Many metal nanoparticles were found to cause chromosomal aberrations, DNA strand breaks, oxidative DNA damage, and mutations. Inconsistencies are found in the literature, however, thus drawing conclusions is difficult due to a variety of factors. Therefore, the areas requiring further attention are highlighted and recommendations to improve our understanding of the genotoxic potential are addressed.

Keywords: chromosome aberration; DNA damage; metal nanoparticle; mutation

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