A New Approach to Assess Gold Nanoparticle Uptake by Mammalian Cells: Combining Optical Dark-Field and Transmission Electron Microscopy



Toxicological effects of nanoparticles are associated with their internalization into cells. Hence, there is a strong need for techniques revealing the interaction between particles and cells as well as quantifying the uptake at the same time. For that reason, herein optical dark-field microscopy is used in conjunction with transmission electron microscopy to investigate the uptake of gold nanoparticles into epithelial cells with respect to shape, stabilizing agent, and surface charge. The number of internalized particles is strongly dependent on the stabilizing agent, but not on the particle shape. A test of metabolic activity shows no direct correlation with the number of internalized particles. Therefore, particle properties besides coating and shape are suspected to contribute to the observed toxicity.