Better safe than sorry

Understanding the toxicological properties of inorganic nanoparticles manufactured for biomedical applications

Bengt Fadeel*, Alfonso E. Garcia-Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

492 Citations (Scopus)


The development of nanoparticles for biomedical applications including medical imaging and drug delivery is currently undergoing a dramatic expansion. However, as the range of nanoparticle types and applications increases, it is also clear that the potential toxicities of these novel materials and the properties driving such toxic responses must also be understood. Indeed, a detailed assessment of the factors that influence the biocompatibility and/or toxicity of nanoparticles is crucial for the safe and sustainable development of the emerging nanotechnologies. This review summarizes some of the recent developments in the field of nanomedicine with particular emphasis on inorganic nanoparticles for drug delivery. The synthesis routes, physico-chemical characteristics, and cytotoxic properties of inorganic nanoparticles are thus explored and lessons learned from the toxicological investigation of three common types of engineered nanomaterials of titania, gold, and mesoporous silica are discussed. Emphasis is placed on the recognition versus non-recognition of engineered nanomaterials by the immune system, the primary surveillance system against microorganisms and particles, which, in turn, is intimately linked to the issue of targeted drug delivery using such nanomaterials as carrier systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-374
Number of pages13
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biocompatibility
  • Drug delivery
  • Gold
  • Mesoporous silica
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanotoxicology
  • Titania

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