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Pure gold nanoparticles found in everyday items such as personal care products can slow wound healing and accelerate skin aging, according to new research results.

Investigators, led by Tatsiana Mironava, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Molecular Engineering at Stony Brook University, detail their work in Nanotoxicology.

Investigators tested the impact of nanoparticles in vitro on multiple types of cells, to determine whether their basic functions were disrupted when exposed to very low doses of nanoparticles. Subcutaneous adipose tissue acts as insulation from heat and cold, functions as a reserve of nutrients, and is found around internal organs for padding, in yellow bone marrow and in breast tissue.

They discovered that the human adipose-derived stromal cells — a type of adult stem cell — were penetrated by the gold nanoparticles almost instantly and that the particles accumulated in the cells with no obvious pathway for elimination. The presence of the particles disrupted multiple cell functions, such as movement; replication (cell division); and collagen contraction. These processes are essential in wound healing.