Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering 2022; 27(2): 213-220  
Evaluation of the Effects, Causes, and Risks of Gold Nanorods Promoting Cell Proliferation
Jaewook Lee and Byeong Hee Hwang
Jaewook Lee, Byeong Hee Hwang*
Department of Bioengineering and Nano-bioengineering, Incheon National University, Incheon 22012, Korea
Tel: +82-32-835-8834; Fax: +82-32-835-2699
Byeong Hee Hwang
Division of Bioengineering, Incheon National University, Incheon 22012, Korea
Received: June 8, 2021; Revised: September 6, 2021; Accepted: October 13, 2021; Published online: April 30, 2022.
© The Korean Society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Gold nanoparticles differently affect cells depending on physical parameters (shape, size, aspect ratio, etc.). Therefore, it is essential to analyze shape- and concentration-dependent effects on cells and use them safely because new materials can simultaneously have both potential and threats. This research investigated the gold nanorod’s (GNR) shape effect and the concentration criteria on cell viability and why GNR promotes cell proliferation. Unlike 10-nm and 60-nm gold nanospheres, GNR of 3.4 aspect ratio generated intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), and ROS affected cell viability depending on concentrations. GNRs between 0.75 pM and 37 pM produced trace ROS, which promoted HDFn (human dermal fibroblasts, neonatal) cell viability. GNRs of 7.5 nM or more produced more ROS, which reduced HDFn cell viability. On the other hand, GNRs around 0.745 nm promoted HeLa cell viability. GNRs of 3.75 nM or more repressed HeLa cell viability. Hydrogen peroxide of 0.01 and 0.1 μM promoted HDFn cell viability by 7% and 9.9%. This observation could speculate that GNR-generated ROS promoted cell proliferation via activated the ERK1/2 signaling pathway. Therefore, picomolar GNRs could be used to enhance skin cell viability in cosmetics and wound healing. On the other hand, nanomolar GNRs could be applied to kill cancer cells.
Keywords: gold nanorod, cell proliferation, reactive oxygen species, therapeutics

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