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Bioceramics Development and Applications
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Effect of Nano-HAP on Proliferation of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells

Cao Xianying*, Du Jingjing, Wen Feng, Cao Yang, and Pang Sujuan

Cultivate Base of State Key Laboratory in Hainan Sustainable Utilization of Tropic Biological Resource, Key Laboratory of Ministry of Education for Application Technology of Chemical Materials in Hainan Superior Resources, College of Materials and Chemical Engineering, Hainan University, Haikou 570228, China

*Corresponding Author:
Cao Xianying
E-mail: cxying [email protected]

Received date: 11 November 2010; Accepted date: 02 December 2010

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nano-hydroxyapatite; hepatocellular carcinoma cells; proliferation inhibition; MTT; inhibition rate


In recent years, there is a growing interest in nanoparticles (1 ∼ 100 nm) due to their special physical and chemical characteristics. Nano-technology is one of the backbones that help develop new medical treatment techniques, and much research work focused on the aspects of the prevention and treatment of tumors. In fact, nano-HAP has already gained some significant attentions recently because of an increased interest in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma [2,3,4,5]. The purpose of this study is to develop a new kind of nano-HAP and exam the inhibition rate of that kind of nano-HAP to the proliferation of hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

Materials and methods


Ca(OH)2 (AR), RPMI-1640 medium (Gibco, USA), MTT (Fluka, USA), NBCS (Gibco, USA), trypsinase (sigma, USA), Bel-7402 human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line (CCTCC GDC 035).

Preparation of nano-hydroxyapatite

Ca(H2PO4)2·H2O solution was added into Ca(OH)2 saturated solution to ensure a final Ca/P mole ratio slightly greater than 1.67 under magnetic stirring continuously, and a stabilizer of polysaccharide was also added to the system. Then, the sol was treated by ultrasonic at regular intervals for 15min until the sol was stable.

Characterization of nano-hydroxyapatite

The sample was treated and determined the average particle diameter and particle diameter distribution with laser scattering particle analyzer (Zetasizer 3000HS, Malvern, England). The structural and chemical bonding analyses of sample were employed using X-ray diffraction (XRD) (D/MAX-IIIA, RIGAKU, Japan) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) (Nexus, Thermo Labsystems Nicolet, America) respectively, and the particle morphology was examined by transmission electron microscope (TEM) (H-600 STEM/EDX PV9100, Hitachi, Japan) and analyzed with electronic diffraction (ED).

Test of cell inhibition rate

Human hepatocellular carcinoma cells Bel-7402 were treated with different concentrations of nano-HAP and cultured for 7 days, then numbers of surviving cells were tested using the Methyl Thiazolyl Tetrazolium (MTT) method at an interval of 24 hours [1]. So the cell inhibition rate was obtained.

Results and discussion

Average particle diameter and distribution

Laser scattering particle analyzer was used to determine the average particle diameter and particle diameter distribution of nano-HAP. The analysis results showed that the average particle diameter analyzed by intensity is 59.9 nm, the particle diameter is distributed between 9.8 nm and 314.4 nm and concentrated between 33.3 nm and 75.3 nm (as shown in Figure 1). The average particle diameter is 24.8 nm analyzed by volume and 10.6 nm analyzed by number, respectively. The size of particle depends on the relative velocity of nucleation and crystal growth. If nucleation rate is faster, but crystal growth velocity is slower even close to zero, the nano-HAP is obtained; otherwise, the particle diameter would become larger. On the other hand, aggregation of small particles may cause the forming of a larger size particle. Due to using ultrasonic technology during the preparation of nano-HAP, the particle were dispersed steadily. Additionally, the process of preparation is under the room temperature, which avoided agglutination under the high temperature.


Figure 1: Average diameter and size distribution of nano-HAP. (a) Distribution curve of intensity percent, (b) statistic data of number, volume and intensity.

XRD analysis

The XRD pattern of the synthesized monocalcium phosphate is shown in Figure 2. The crystallinity of Ca(H2PO4)2· H2O is high and no impurity was found. It can be seen from Figure 3 that the peak intensity of the prepared nano-HAP is low and the peak distribution is wide, which illustrated that the nano-HAP is amorphous and that of crystallinity is low.


Figure 2: X-ray diffraction spectra of monocalcium phosphate.


Figure 3: X-ray diffraction of nano-HAP.

FTIR analysis

Figure 4 shows the FTIR spectra with characteristic absorption peaks of HAP. The peak at 1040 cm–1 is stretching vibration peak of P-O. Two absorption peaks appeared at 603 cm–1 and 566 cm–1, which correspond to the bending vibration peaks of P-O. The peaks at 3425 cm–1 and 1641 cm–1 correspond to the stretching vibration and bending vibration peak of H-O, respectively. The peak at 1422 cm–1 is stretching vibration peak of C=O, and the peak at 874 cm–1 is bending vibration peak of C=O.


Figure 4: Infrared spectrum of nano-HAP.

TEM and ED analysis

The morphology of nano-HAP was analyzed by TEM, and chemical components were analyzed by ED. The TEM pattern and electronic diffraction of nano-HAP are shown in Figure 5. From Figure 5(a), the particles of nano-HAP are in the form of rods and are uniformly distributed with a size of 10 nm×30 nm. From Figure 5(b), the electron diffraction annuli was coincide with that of HAP, but more wider, which showed that the crystallinity is low.


Figure 5: TEM photo and electronic diffraction of nano-HAP. (a) TEM photo, (b) ED of particles in photo (a).

Cell inhibition rate

The MTT tests were performed after different concentration of nano-HAP (group 1–0.14 mmol/L, group 2–0.35 mmol/L, group 3–0.56 mmol/L) was added in the culture medium. Then the cell inhibition rate was obtained. The result was listed in Table 1.

Cell culture time (day)
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7
H1–1 0.9 ± 0.2 6.2 ± 0.5 17.0 ± 1.6 15.5 ± 3.6**## 14.7 ± 6.3**# 12.4 ± 5.9** 8.2 ± 0.1
H1–2 4.9 ± 1.1 24.2 ± 11.7 37.9 ± 7.6 39.7 ± 4.4** 33.4 ± 3.2** 27.6 ± 5.4** 16.3 ± 1.9
H1–3 23.1 ± 7.1 36.4 ± 5.1 55.7 ± 2.5 72.5 ± 4.4 72.2 ± 4.5 68.4 ± 4.0 47.6 ± 4.9

Table 1: The inhibition rate of Bel-7402 cells treated with nano-HAP (%) (image ± s, n = 18).

Figure 6 showed that the highest inhibiting effects of nano-HAP on human hepatocellular carcinoma cells Bel-7402 appeared on the 4th day. The IR (%) of experimental groups increases with increasing concentration of nano-HAP. At first 24 hours, the IR of each group (0.9 + 0.2%, 4.9 + 1.1%, 23.1 + 7.1%) had no significant difference (P > .05). On the 2nd day, the IRs of each group were 6.2 + 0.5%, 24.2 + 11.7%, 36.4 + 5.1%. On the 4th day, the IR of each group (15.5 + 3.6%, 39.7 + 4.4%, 72.5 + 4.4%) had a significant difference (P < .01). The results demonstrated that the nano-HAP particles (group 3) have amazing anticarcinogenic properties.


Figure 6: Inhibition of proliferation of Bel-7402 cells with nano-HAP. H1: 59.9 nm; H1–1: 0.14 mmol/L, H1–2: 0.35 mmol/L, H1–3: 0.56 mmol/L.


The homogenous nano-HAP particles with an average particle diameter of 59.9 nm can be prepared successfully using a homogenous precipitation method. The prepared nano-HAP particles significantly inhibited the proliferation of Bel-7402 human hepatocellular carcinoma cells in vitro. Specially, optimum concentration of the nano-HAP particles is 0.56 mmol/L. At that time, the inhibition rate is more than 70%.

Acknowledgment This work was supported by a grant of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 50642009), the Natural Science Foundation of Hainan Province (No. 509001), and the Key Scientific Research Project of Hainan University (hd09xm30).


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