Kinetics of silica nanoparticles in the human placenta

Marie Sonnegaard Poulsen, Tina Mose, Lisa Leth Maroun, Line Mathiesen, Lisbeth Ehlert Knudsen, Erik Rytting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The potential medical applications of nanoparticles (NPs) warrant their investigation in terms of biodistribution and safety during pregnancy. The transport of silica NPs across the placenta was investigated using two models of maternal-foetal transfer in human placenta, namely, the BeWo b30 choriocarcinoma cell line and the ex vivo perfused human placenta. Nanotoxicity in BeWo cells was examined by the MTT assay which demonstrated decreased cell viability at concentrations >100 μg/mL. In the placental perfusion experiments, antipyrine crossed the placenta rapidly, with a foetal:maternal ratio of 0.97 ± 0.10 after 2 h. In contrast, the percentage of silica NPs reaching the foetal perfusate after 6 h was limited to 4.2 ± 4.9% and 4.6 ± 2.4% for 25 and 50 nm NPs, respectively. The transport of silica NPs across the BeWo cells was also limited, with an apparent permeability of only 1.54 × 10-6 ± 1.56 × 10-6 cm/s. Using confocal microscopy, there was visual confirmation of particle accumulation in both BeWo cells and in perfused placental tissue. Despite the low transfer of silica NPs to the foetal compartment, questions regarding biocompatibility could limit the application of unmodified silica NPs in biomedical imaging or therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • BeWo cells
  • Nanotoxicology
  • Placental perfusion
  • Transport
  • in vitro

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Toxicology


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