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The key questions that are being addressed within the NeuroNano project are directed towards understanding the role of nanoparticles in neuro-degenerative diseases determining whether these engineered nanoparticles present a significant neuro-toxicological risk to humans.

Neurodegenerative diseases currently affect over 1.6% of the European population,(Alzheimer Europe 2006) with dramatically rising incidence likely (in part) due to the increase of the average age of the population.

The overall science and technological objective of the NeuroNano program is to determine if engineered nanoparticles could constitute a significant neuro-toxicological risk to humans for two diseases endpoints, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. We also consider it important that the program does not presume neurotoxic hazard. Thus, a major focus is the critical evaluation of the entire chain of reasoning leading to present concerns. This will be achieved by the detailed determination of cellular and molecular mechanisms involved along the whole chain of effects induced by engineered nanoparticle-biological interactions, all in a dose dependent manner. The emphasis on mechanisms is important for it will advance the field of knowledge of neuronanotoxicology, irrespective of whether any clear disease endpoint emerges.

The data generated within the NeuroNano program will be consolidated into a deeper understanding of the risks posed by nanoparticles in terms of human health, disease and in particular neurodegeneration.

NeuroNano is a collaboration between:

EU FP7 NMP Programme


PI and Co-PIs

Postdoctoral Fellows

PhD students

University of Edinburgh



  • Prof. Ken Donaldson

University College Cork



  • Prof. David Sheehan
  • Prof. John Davenport

University of Ulster



Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Dr. Ashley Taylor
  • Dr. Andreas Elsaesser

Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen



  • Prof. Wolfgang Kreyling

JRC – Joint Research Centre of the European Commission



  • Prof. Neil Gibson

University of Rochester



  • Prof. Gunter Oberdorster
  • Dr. Alison Elder

University of California



  • Prof. Andre Nel

Rice University



  • Prof. Vicki Colvin

National Institute of Materials Science



  • Kun’ici Miyazawa

Universidade Federal do Ceara



  • Prof. Jose Soares Andrade
  • Prof. Antonio Gomes Souza Filho

Representative Publications

  • Bexiga, M.G., Varela, J.A., Wang, F., Fenaroli, F., Salvati, A., Lynch, I., Simpson, J.C., Dawson, K.A. Cationic nanoparticles induce caspase 3-, 7- and 9-mediated cytotoxicity in a human astrocytoma cell line. Nanotoxicology. 2010 Dec 13. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Brown DM, Hutchison, L., Donaldson, K., Stone, V. (2007) The effects of PM10 particles and oxidative stress on macrophages and lung epithelial cells: modulating effects of calcium-signaling antagonists. Am. J. Physiol. Lung Cell Mol. Physiol. 292,L1444-1451.
  • Brown DM, Wilson, M. R., MacNee, W., Stone, V., Donaldson, K. (2001). Size-dependent proinflammatory effects of ultrafine polystyrene particles: a role for surface area and oxidative stress in the enhanced activity of ultrafines. Toxicol.Appl.Pharmacol. 175,191-199.
  • Cabaleiro-Lago C, Quinlan-Pluck, F., Lynch, I., Lindman, S., Minogue, A.M., Thulin, E., Walsh, D.M., Dawson, K.A., Linse, S. (2008). Inhibition of amyloid beta protein fibrillation by polymeric nanoparticles. J Am Chem Soc. 130,15437-15443.
  • Cedervall T, Lynch, I., Foy, M., Berggård, T.,  Donelly, S., Cagney, G., Linse, S., Dawson, K.A. (2007a). Detailed Identification of Plasma Proteins Absorbed to Copolymer Nanoparticles. Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. 46,5754-5756.
  • Cedervall T, Lynch, I., Lindman, S., Nilsson, H., Thulin, E., Linse, S., Dawson K.A. (2007b). Understanding the nanoparticle protein corona using methods to quantify exchange rates and affinities of proteins for nanoparticles. PNAS 104,2050-2055.
  • Duffin R, Tran, L., Brown, D., Stone, V., Donaldson, K. (2007). Proinflammogenic effects of low-toxicity and metal nanoparticles in vivo and in vitro: highlighting the role of particle surface area and surface reactivity. Inhal. Toxicol. 19,849-856.
  • Kreyling W, Möller, W., Semmler-Behnke, M., and Oberdörster, G.. (2007). Particle Dosimetrie: Deposition and clearance from the respiratory tract and translocasion towards extra- pulmonary sites. . (.Francis & Taylor, Boca Raton.).
  • Linse S, Cabaleiro-Lago, C., Xue, W.-F., Lynch, I., Lindman, S., Thulin, E., Radford, S., Dawson, K.A. (2007). Nucleation of protein fibrillation by nanoparticles. PNAS 104,8691-8696.
  • Lynch I, Dawson, K.A., Linse, S. (2006). Detecting crytpic epitopes in proteins adsorbed onto nanoparticles. Science STKE 327,pp pe 14.
  • Nel A, Xia, T., Mädler, L., Li, N. (2006). Toxic Potential of Materials at the Nanolevel. Science 311,622 - 627.
  • Nic Ragnaill M., Brown M., Ye D., Bramini M., Callanan S., Lynch I., Dawson K.A. Internal benchmarking of a human blood-brain barrier cell model for screening of nanoparticle uptake and transcytosis. 2011, European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics. Epub ahead of print
  • Walczyk D, Baldelli-Bombelli, F., Campbell, A., Lynch, I., Dawson, K.A. (2009). What the Cell “Sees” in Bionanoscience, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 5761-5768.
  • Xia T, Kovochich, M., Brant, J., Hotze, M., Sempf, J., Oberley, T., Sioutas, C., Yeh, J.I., Wiesner, M.R., Nel, A.E. (2006). Comparison of the abilities of ambient and manufactured nanoparticles to induce cellular toxicity according to an oxidative stress paradigm. Nano Lett. 6,1794-1807.