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Selective Cytotoxicities of Red-Allotrope Selenium Nanoparticles and Polyethylene Glycol Towards Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Comparison to Human Dermal Fibroblasts

  • Christopher Hassan (a1) and Thomas J. Webster (a1) (a2)


Given their low toxicity and natural presence in the human diet, selenium nanoparticles have been established as potential candidates for the treatment of numerous cancers. In this study, red-allotrope selenium nanoparticles (rSeNPs) were synthesized and characterized. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and human dermal fibroblast (HDF) cell lines were cultured and exposed to rSeNPs at concentrations ranging from 0.01 to 100μg rSeNP/mL media for one to three days. The cytotoxicity of rSeNP towards HNSCC and HDF was analyzed. Results indicated that the particles were approximately four times as cytotoxic toward HNSCC compared to HDF, with their respective IC50 values at 19.22 and 59.61μg rSeNP/mL media. Using statistical analysis, an effective dosage range for killing HNSCC cells while simultaneously minimizing damage to HDF over a three-day incubation was established as 20 to 55μg rSeNP/mL media. Such results indicate that rSeNPs are a potential option for treating HNSCC. Due to its ability to minimize nanoparticle agglomeration, making a it a candidate with which to functionalize selenium, similar assays were performed using poly(ethylene glycol) with a molecular weight of 200g/mol (PEG200), with results indicating that only a slight cytotoxic effect exists for HNSCC and almost no effect for HDF.


Corresponding author

Contact Author: Thomas J. Webster 617-373-2989


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