Synthesis, Characterization and Cytotoxic Evaluation of Graphene Oxide Nanosheets: In Vitro Liver Cancer Model

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Virology and Immunology Unit, Cancer Biology Department, National Cancer Institute, Cairo University, Egypt.

2 Mostafa Elsayed Center for Nanotechnology Research, British University in Egypt, Egypt.

3 Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Central Lab, Agricultural Research Center, Egypt.

4 Department of Photochemistry Photobiology, National Institute for Laser Enhanced Science (NILES) Cairo University, Egypt.


Background: Graphene nanosheets have a broad spectrum of biomedical applications. Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) is a major health problem in the Egyptian population. Currently, treatment strategies are invasive and have several adverse side effects. Thus, other approaches are required for managing this aggressive type of cancer. Our objective here was to prepare and characterize graphene oxide nanosheets and evaluate cytotoxic effect at the molecular level in an in vitro human liver cancer cell model (HepG2). Methods: Graphene oxide nanosheets were generated by chemical oxidation and characterized by transmission electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction. Cytotoxic effects in HepG2 cells were monitored by sulforhodamine B (SRB) colorimetric assay followed by flow cytometric analysis. Molecular investigations of DNA fragmentation and expression of some apoptotic genes at the transcriptional RNA level were also performed. Results: Treatment of HepG2 cells with 400μg/ml graphene oxide nanosheets showed alteration in cell morphology after 24 h. Flow cytometry revealed accumulation of cells in S phase of cell cycle followed by dramatic effects on cellular DNA. Extensive evaluation of the cytotoxic effects of graphene oxide showed increased mRNA Bax apoptotic gene expression with not of P53 and caspase-3 mRNA after 24h, suggesting involvement of an intrinsic apoptotic caspase-independent pathway. Conclusion. Graphene oxide can mediate apoptotic gene signaling in human liver cancer cells opening a novel approach to cancer management. Further analyses at the molecular level are now required to confirm our results and facilitate biomedical applications in vivo.


Main Subjects

Volume 18, Issue 4
April 2017
Pages 955-961
  • Receive Date: 01 December 2016
  • Revise Date: 31 March 2017
  • Accept Date: 18 May 2017
  • First Publish Date: 18 May 2017