Human erythrocytes and neuroblastoma cells are affected in vitro by Au(III) ions

Mario Suwalsky, Raquel González, Fernando Villena, Luis F. Aguilar, Carlos P. Sotomayor, Silvia Bolognin, Paolo Zatta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Gold compounds are well known for their neurological and nephrotoxic implications. However, haematological toxicity is one of the most serious toxic and less studied effects. The lack of information on these aspects of Au(III) prompted us to study the structural effects induced on cell membranes, particularly that of human erythrocytes. AuCl3 was incubated with intact erythrocytes, isolated unsealed human erythrocyte membranes (IUM) and molecular models of the erythrocyte membrane. The latter consisted of multibilayers of dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine and dimyristoylphosphatidylethanolamine, phospholipids classes located in the outer and inner monolayers of the human erythrocyte membrane, respectively. This report presents evidence that Au(III) interacts with red cell membranes as follows: (a) in scanning electron microscopy studies on human erythrocytes it was observed that Au(III) induced shape changes at a concentration as low as 0.01 μM; (b) in isolated unsealed human erythrocyte membranes Au(III) induced a decrease in the molecular dynamics and/or water content at the glycerol backbone level of the lipid bilayer polar groups in a 5-50 μMconcentration range, and (c) X-ray diffraction studies showed that Au(III) in the 10 μm-1 mM range induced increasing structural perturbation only to dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine bilayers. Additional experiments were performed in human neuroblastoma cells SH-SY5Y. A statistically significant decrease of cell viability was observed with Au(III) ranging from 0.1 μM to 100 μM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-231
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - 25 Jun 2010


  • Au(III)
  • Erythrocyte membrane
  • Gold
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Phospholipid bilayer


Dive into the research topics of 'Human erythrocytes and neuroblastoma cells are affected in vitro by Au(III) ions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this