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Nanostructures: Between Natural Environment And Medical Practice

Maria Concetta Trovato, Daniele Andronico, Salvatore Sciacchitano, Rosaria Maddalena Ruggeri, Isa Picerno, Angela Di Pietro, Giuseppa Visalli

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Abstract Nanoparticles (NPs) are small structures under 100 nm in dimension. Interrelationships among the morphological parameters and toxicity of NPs have been the focus of several investigations that assessed potential health risk in environmentally-exposed subjects and the realistic uses of NPs in medical practice. In the current review, we provide a summary of the cellular mechanisms of membrane-mediated transport, including old and novel molecules that transport nanostructures across cellular membranes. The effects of geochemical exposure to natural NPs are evaluated through epidemiological data and cancerous pathways activated by Fe2+ NPs. Specifically, we discuss screening for papillary thyroid carcinomas in the inhabitants of the Sicilian volcanic area surrounding Mount Etna to compare the incidence of thyroid carcinoma in this population. Lastly, considering the increased production of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), we examine the toxicity and potential use of these engineered NPs in drug delivery of an extensive amount of therapeutic and imaging molecules (theranosis) that can be conjugated to CNTs.