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Evaluation of Magnetic Micro- and Nanoparticle Toxicity to Ocular Tissues
Published: Thursday, May 26, 2011
Author: Hemalatha B. Raju et al.

by Hemalatha B. Raju, Ying Hu, Anil Vedula, Sander R. Dubovy, Jeffrey L. Goldberg


Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) may be used for focal delivery of plasmids, drugs, cells, and other applications. Here we ask whether such particles are toxic to ocular structures.


To evaluate the ocular toxicity of MNPs, we asked if either 50 nm or 4 µm magnetic particles affect intraocular pressure, corneal endothelial cell count, retinal morphology including both cell counts and glial activation, or photoreceptor function at different time points after injection. Sprague-Dawley rats (n?=?44) were injected in the left eye with either 50 nm (3 µl, 1.65 mg) or 4 µm (3 µl, 1.69 mg) magnetic particles, and an equal volume of PBS into the right eye. Electroretinograms (ERG) were used to determine if MNPs induce functional changes to the photoreceptor layers. Enucleated eyes were sectioned for histology and immunofluorescence.


Compared to control-injected eyes, MNPs did not alter IOP measurements. ERG amplitudes for a-waves were in the 100–250 µV range and b-waves were in the 500–600 µV range, with no significant differences between injected and non-injected eyes. Histological sectioning and immunofluorescence staining showed little difference in MNP-injected animals compared to control eyes. In contrast, at 1 week, corneal endothelial cell numbers were significantly lower in the 4 µm magnetic particle-injected eyes compared to either 50 nm MNP- or PBS-injected eyes. Furthermore, iron deposition was detected after 4 µm magnetic particle but not 50 nm MNP injection.


Intravitreal or anterior chamber injections of MNPs showed little to no signs of toxicity on retinal structure, photoreceptor function or aqueous drainage in the eye. Our results suggest that MNPs are safe for intraocular use.