The objective of this study was to investigate whether nanoparticle-exposure affects enzyme function and to determine the mechanisms responsible. Silicon, Au, and CdSe nanoparticles were synthesized in house and their physicochemical properties were characterized. The activity of purified lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) was inhibited or abolished by all nanoparticles tested. Inhibition was dependent upon particle core and surface-functional group composition. Inhibition of LDH was absent in crude tissue homogenates, in the presence of albumin, and at the isoelectric point of the protein, indicating that nanoparticles bind non-specifically to abundant proteins via a charge interaction. Circular dichroism spectroscopy suggests that the structure of LDH may be altered by nanoparticles in a manner different from that of bulk controls. We present new data on the specific physicochemical properties of nanoparticles that may lead to bioactivity and highlight a number of potentially serious problems with common nanotoxicity testing methods.
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