Metabolic Characteristics of 16HBE and A549 Cells Exposed to Different Surface Modified Gold Nanorods

Zhigang Liu, Liming Wang, Limin Zhang, Xiaochun Wu, Guangjun Nie, Chunying Chen, Huiru Tang, Yulan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Gold nanorods (AuNRs) have shown their great potential in cancer treatment due to their special physiochemical and optical properties, and the ease of surface modification. However, the molecular mechanism of biological effects induced by different surface modified AuNRs remains largely undetermined. Herein, this study for the first time systematically analyzed metabolic impacts of three surface modified AuNRs in cancer and noncancer cells detected by NMR and GC-FID/MS metabolomics and validated by molecular biological approach. It is found that positively and negatively charged AuNRs induce different metabolic consequences. Most importantly, it is found that the PEI-AuNRs display specific cytotoxicity to A549 cells while posing little impact on 16HBE cells. The cytotoxicity of PEI-AuNRs to A549 cells is manifested in large disruptions to the cell metabolisms, which affects energy metabolism, choline metabolism, the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway, and oxidative stress to cells. The results of this study provide comprehensive molecular information on the distinct biological effects of different surface modified AuNRs, and can be valuable in designing purpose-driven nanomaterials. Most importantly, this work highlights the potential of metabolomics coupled with molecular biological techniques in screening antitumor nanodrugs and revealing the molecular mechanism of their biological effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2363-2375
Number of pages13
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 21 2016


  • biomedical applications
  • cancer cell
  • gold nanorods
  • metabolomics
  • surface modification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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