• ionic liquids;
  • cytotoxicity;
  • task-specific ionic liquids


In vitro cytotoxicities were measured for ionic liquids (ILs) containing various cations and anions using the MCF7 human breast cancer cell line. We measured the cytotoxicities of ionic liquids containing the cations pyridinium, pyrrolidinium, piperidinium, or imidazolium with various alkyl chain lengths, and the anions bromide, bis(trifluoromethanesulfone)imide (Tf2N), trifluoromethylsulfonate (TfO), or nonafluoromethylsulfonate (NfO). Three new hydrophobic, task-specific ionic liquids (TSILs), namely, [MBCNPip]+[Tf2N], [MPS2Pip]+[Tf2N], and [MPS2Pyrro]+[Tf2N] designed for metal-ion extraction were also evaluated. IC50 values of the ionic liquids toward the MCF7 cells ranged from 8 μM to 44 mM. The toxicity depended significantly on the nature of the cations and anions, especially when the cations contained a long side chain. TSILs studied in this work were less toxic than the classical ILs. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol, 2009.