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In vitro removal of toxic heavy metals by poly(γ-glutamic acid)-coated superparamagnetic nanoparticles

Authors Stephen Inbaraj B, Chen B 

Received 30 May 2012

Accepted for publication 26 June 2012

Published 10 August 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 4419—4432


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Baskaran Stephen Inbaraj,1 Bing-Huei Chen1,2

Department of Food Science, 2Graduate Institute of Medicine, Fu Jen University, Taipei, Taiwan

Background: Chelation therapy involving organic chelators for treatment of heavy metal intoxication can cause cardiac arrest, kidney overload, mineral deficiency, and anemia.
Methods: In this study, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) modified with an edible biopolymer poly(γ-glutamic acid) (PGA) were synthesized by coprecipitation method, characterized and evaluated for their removal efficiency of heavy metals from a metal solution, and simulated gastrointestinal fluid (SGIF).
Results: Instrumental characterization of bare- and PGA-SPIONs revealed 7% coating of PGA on SPIONs with a spherical shape and an iron oxide spinel structure belonging to magnetite. The particle sizes as determined from transmission electron microscopy images were 8.5 and 11.7 nm for bare- and PGA-SPIONs, respectively, while the magnetization values were 70.3 and 61.5 emu/g. Upon coating with PGA, the zeta potentials were shifted from positive to negative at most of the environmental pH (3–8) and biological pH (1–8), implying good dispersion in aqueous suspension and favorable conditions for heavy metal removal. Batch studies showed rapid removal of lead and cadmium with the kinetic rates estimated by pseudo-second-order model being 0.212 and 0.424 g/mg•min, respectively. A maximum removal occurred in the pH range 4–8 in deionized water and 5–8 in SGIF corresponding to most gastrointestinal pH except for the stomach. Addition of different ionic strengths (0.001–1 M sodium acetate) and essential metals (Cu, Fe, Zn, Mg, Ca, and K) did not show any marked influence on lead removal by PGA-SPIONs, but significantly reduced the binding of cadmium. Compared to deionized water, the lead removal from SGIF was high at all pH with the Langmuir monolayer removal capacity being 98.70 mg/g for the former and 147.71 mg/g for the latter. However, a lower cadmium removal capacity was shown for SGIF (23.15 mg/g) than for deionized water (31.13 mg/g).
Conclusion: These results suggest that PGA-SPIONs could be used as a metal chelator for clinical treatment of metal poisoning.

Keywords: superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, poly(γ-glutamic acid), heavy metals, chelation therapy, gastrointestinal pH, kinetics

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