Influence of EDC/NHS coupling chemistry on stability and cytotoxicity of ZnO nanoparticles modified with proteins

Seda Keleştemur, Mine Altunbek, Mustafa Culha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) is a growing concern due to its increasing use in several products including sunscreens, paints, pigments and ceramics for its antibacterial, antifungal, anti-corrosive and UV filtering properties. The toxicity of ZnO NPs is mostly attributed to the Zn 2+ release causing an increase in the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level. The surface modification with a biocompatible ligand or a polymer can be a good strategy to reduce dissolution based toxicity. In two previous studies, the conflicting results with EDC/NHS coupling chemistry for ZnO NPs were reported. In this study, the same surface modification strategy with an emphasis on the stability of ZnO NPs is clarified. First, the density of –OH groups on the ZnO NPs is increased with hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) treatment, and then a silica coating on the ZnO NPs (Si-ZnO) surface is performed. Finally, a covalent attachment of bovine serum albumin (BSA) on three different concentrations of ZnO-Si is carried out by EDC/NHS coupling chemistry. ZnO NPs have a very high dissolution rate under acidic conditions of EDC/NHS coupling chemistry as determined from the ICP-MS analysis. In addition, the amount of ZnO NPs in coupling reaction has an important effect on the dissolution rate of Zn 2+ and dependently BSA attached on the ZnO NP surfaces. Finally, the cytotoxicity of the BSA modified Si-ZnO NPs on human lung cancer (A549) and human skin fibroblast (HSF) is evaluated. Although an increased association of BSA modified ZnO NPs with cells was observed, the modification significantly decreased their cytotoxicity. This can be explained with the decreased active surface area of ZnO NPs with the surface modification. However, an increase in the mitochondrial depolarization and ROS production was observed depending on the amount of BSA coverage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-463
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Surface Science
StatePublished - May 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bovine serum albumin
  • Cellular uptake
  • Coupling chemistry
  • Cytotoxicity
  • ZnO nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of EDC/NHS coupling chemistry on stability and cytotoxicity of ZnO nanoparticles modified with proteins'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this