Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) show great potential for diagnostic and therapeutic application in humans. A great number of studies have tested the cytotoxicity of AuNP using cell culture. There is, however, an urgent need to test AuNP in vertebrate animal models that interrogate biodistribution and complex biological traits like organ development, whole body metabolism, and cognitive function. The sheer number of different compounds precludes the use of small rodent model for initial screening. The extended fish embryo test (FET) is used here to bridge the gap between cell culture and small animal models. A study on the toxicity of ultrasmall AuNP in wild type and transgenic zebrafish is presented. FET faithfully reproduce all important findings of a previous study in HeLa cells and add new important information on teratogenicity and hepatotoxicity that could not be gained from studying cultured cells.
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