Ultrastructural Analysis of Human Breast Cancer Cells during Their Overtime Interaction with Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles

  • Shatha H. AlAbbadi

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Cerium oxide nanoparticles have been proposed as an anticancer agent, thanks to their ability of tuning the redox activity in accordance to different conditions, which lead to selective roles on healthy and cancer cells. Recent evidence suggested the ability of these nanoparticles to be toxic against cancer cells, while confer protection from oxidative stress, toward healthy cells. The main focus of this study was to determine the ultrastructural effects of cerium oxide nanoparticles over multiple incubation time of 1, 3, and 7 days on breast healthy and cancer cells. Cellular characterizations were carried out using electron microscopes, both transmission and scanning electron microscopes, while the viability assessments were performed by propidium iodide and trypan blue viability assays. The obtained results of the viability assays and electron microscopy suggested higher toxic effects on the cancer cell line viability by using a nanoceria dose of 300 μg/mL after 1 day of treatment. Such effects were shown to be preserved at 3 days, and in a longer time point of 7 days. On the contrary, the healthy cells underwent less effects on their viability at time point of 1 and 7 days. The 3 days treatment demonstrated a reduction on the number of cells that did not correlate with an increase of the dead cells, which suggested a possible initial decrease of the cell growth rate, which could be due to the high intracellular loading of nanoparticles. To conclude, the overall result of this experiment suggested that 300 μg/mL of CeO2 nanoparticles is the most suitable dose, within the range and the time point tested, which induces long-lasting cytotoxic effects in breast cancer cells, without harming the normal cells, as highlighted by the viability assays and ultrastructural characterization of electron microscopy analysis.
Date of AwardDec 2016
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorAndrea Falqui (Supervisor)


  • TEM
  • SEM
  • EDX

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