Exploring some aspects of cancer cell biology with plasmonic nanoparticles
Austin, Lauren Anne
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Plasmonic nanoparticles, specifically gold and silver nanoparticles, exhibit unique optical, physical, and chemical properties that are exploited in many biomedical applications. Due to their nanometer size, facile surface functionalization and enhanced optical performance, gold and silver nanoparticles can be used to investigate cellular biology. The work herein highlights a new methodology that has exploited these remarkable properties in order to probe various aspect of cancer cell biology, such as cell cycle progression, drug delivery, and cell death. Cell death mechanisms due to localized gold and silver nanoparticle exposure were also elucidated in this work. Chapter 1 introduces the reader to the synthesis and functionalization of gold and silver nanoparticles as well as reviews their implementation in biodiagnostic and therapeutic applications to provide a foundation for Chapters 3 and 4, where their use in spectroscopic and cytotoxic studies are presented. Chapter 2 provides the reader with detailed explanations of experimental protocols for nanoparticle synthesis and functionalization, in vitro cellular biology experiments, and live-cell Raman spectroscopy experiments that were utilized throughout Chapters 3 and 4. Chapter 3 presents the use of nuclear-targeted gold nanoparticles in conjunction with a Raman microscope modified to contain a live-cell imaging chamber to probe cancer cell cycle progression (Chapter 3.1), examine drug efficacy (Chapter 3.2), monitor drug delivery (Chapter 3.3), and detect apoptotic molecular events in real-time (Chapter 3.4). In Chapter 4, the intracellular effects of gold and silver nanoparticles are explored through live-cell Rayleigh imaging, cell cycle analysis and DNA damage (Chapter 4.1), as well as through the elucidation of cytotoxic cell death mechanisms after nanoparticle exposure (Chapter 4.2) and live cell imaging of silver nanoparticle treated cancer cell communities (Chapter 4.3).