Silica nanoparticles induce cardiotoxicity interfering with energetic status and Ca2+ handling in adult rat cardiomyocytes

Carlos Enrique Guerrero-Beltrán, Judith Bernal-Ramírez, Omar Lozano, Yuriana Oropeza-Almazán, Elena Cristina Castillo, Jesús Roberto Garza, Noemí García, Jorge Vela, Alejandra García-García, Eduardo Ortega, Guillermo Torre-Amione, Nancy Ornelas-Soto, Gerardo García-Rivas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Recent evidence has shown that nanoparticles that have been used to improve or create new functional properties for common products may pose potential risks to human health. Silicon dioxide (SiO2) has emerged as a promising therapy vector for the heart. However, its potential toxicity and mechanisms of damage remain poorly understood. This study provides the first exploration of SiO2-induced toxicity in cultured cardiomyocytes exposed to 7- or 670-nm SiO2 particles. We evaluated the mechanism of cell death in isolated adult cardiomyocytes exposed to 24-h incubation. The SiO2 cell membrane association and internalization were analyzed. SiO2 showed a dose-dependent cytotoxic effect with a half-maximal inhibitory concentration for the 7 nm (99.5 ± 12.4 μg/ml) and 670 nm (>1,500 μg/ml) particles, which indicates size-dependent toxicity. We evaluated cardiomyocyte shortening and intracellular Ca2+ handling, which showed impaired contractility and intracellular Ca2+ transient amplitude during β-adrenergic stimulation in SiO2 treatment. The time to 50% Ca2+ decay increased 39%, and the Ca2+ spark frequency and amplitude decreased by 35 and 21%, respectively, which suggest a reduction in sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) activity. Moreover, SiO2 treatment depolarized the mitochondrial membrane potential and decreased ATP production by 55%. Notable glutathione depletion and H2O2 generation were also observed. These data indicate that SiO2 increases oxidative stress, which leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and low energy status; these underlie reduced SERCA activity, shortened Ca2+ release, and reduced cell shortening. This mechanism of SiO2 cardiotoxicity potentially plays an important role in the pathophysiology mechanism of heart failure, arrhythmias, and sudden death. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Silica particles are used as novel nanotechnology- based vehicles for diagnostics and therapeutics for the heart. However, their potential hazardous effects remain unknown. Here, the cardiotoxicity of silica nanoparticles in rat myocytes has been described for the first time, showing an impairment of mitochondrial function that interfered directly with Ca2+ handling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H645-H661
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Ca
  • Cardiomyocyte
  • Nanoparticle
  • Silicon dioxide
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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