Intracellular gold nanoparticles increase neuronal excitability and aggravate seizure activity in the mouse brain

Seungmoon Jung, Minji Bang, Byung Sun Kim, Sungmun Lee, Nicholas A. Kotov, Bongsoo Kim, Daejong Jeon

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49 Scopus citations


Due to their inert property, gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have drawn considerable attention; their biological application has recently expanded to include nanomedicine and neuroscience. However, the effect of AuNPs on the bioelectrical properties of a single neuron remains unknown. Here we present the effect of AuNPs on a single neuron under physiological and pathological conditions in vitro. AuNPs were intracellularly applied to hippocampal CA1 neurons from the mouse brain. The electrophysiological property of CA1 neurons treated with 5- or 40-nm AuNPs was assessed using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Intracellular application of AuNPs increased both the number of action potentials (APs) and input resistance. The threshold and duration of APs and the after hyperpolarization (AHP) were decreased by the intracellular AuNPs. In addition, intracellular AuNPs elicited paroxysmal depolarizing shift-like firing patterns during sustained repetitive firings (SRF) induced by prolonged depolarization (10 sec). Furthermore, low Mg2+-induced epileptiform activity was aggravated by the intracellular AuNPs. In this study, we demonstrated that intracellular AuNPs alter the intrinsic properties of neurons toward increasing their excitability, and may have deleterious effects on neurons under pathological conditions, such as seizure. These results provide some considerable direction on application of AuNPs into central nervous system (CNS).

Original languageBritish English
Article numbere91360
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - 13 Mar 2014


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