Non-temperature induced effects of magnetized iron oxide nanoparticles in alternating magnetic field in cancer cells

Sudath Hapuarachchige, Yoshinori Kato, Ethel J. Ngen, Barbara Smith, Michael Delannoy, Dmitri Artemov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper reports the damaging effects of magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (MNP) on magnetically labeled cancer cells when subjected to oscillating gradients in a strong external magnetic field. Human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells were labeled with MNP, placed in the high magnetic field, and subjected to oscillating gradients generated by an imaging gradient system of a 9.4T preclinical MRI system. Changes in cell morphology and a decrease in cell viability were detected in cells treated with oscillating gradients. The cytotoxicity was determined qualitatively and quantitatively by microscopic imaging and cell viability assays. An approximately 26.6% reduction in cell viability was detected in magnetically labeled cells subjected to the combined effect of a static magnetic field and oscillating gradients. No reduction in cell viability was observed in unlabeled cells subjected to gradients, or in MNP-labeled cells in the static magnetic field. As no increase in local temperature was observed, the cell damage was not a result of hyperthermia. Currently, we consider the coherent motion of internalized and aggregated nanoparticles that produce mechanical moments as a potential mechanism of cell destruction. The formation and dynamics of the intracellular aggregates of nanoparticles were visualized by optical and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The images revealed a rapid formation of elongated MNP aggregates in the cells, which were aligned with the external magnetic field. This strategy provides a new way to eradicate a specific population of MNP-labeled cells, potentially with magnetic resonance imaging guidance using standard MRI equipment, with minimal side effects for the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0156294
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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