Cytotoxicity Analysis of Morphologically Different Sol-Gel-Synthesized MgO Nanoparticles and Their In Vitro Insulin Resistance Reversal Ability in Adipose cells

  • Jaison Jeevanandam
  • Yen San ChanEmail author
  • Michael K. Danquah
  • Ming Chiat Law


Insulin resistance is one of the major factors that leads to type 2 diabetes. Although insulin therapies have been shown to overcome insulin resistance, overweight and hypoglycemia are still observed in most cases. The disadvantages of insulin therapies have driven the interest in developing novel curative agents with enhanced insulin resistance reversibility. Magnesium deficiency has also been recognized as a common problem which leads to insulin resistance in both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Oxide nanoparticles demonstrate highly tunable physicochemical properties that can be exploited by engineers to develop unique oxide nanoparticles for tailored applications. Magnesium supplements for diabetic cells have been reported to increase the insulin resistance reversibility. Hence, it is hypothesized that magnesium oxide (MgO) nanoparticles could be molecularly engineered to offer enhanced therapeutic efficacy in reversing insulin resistance. In the present work, morphologically different MgO nanoparticles were synthesized and evaluated for biophysical characteristics, biocompatibility, cytotoxicity, and insulin resistance reversibility. MTT assay revealed that hexagonally shaped MgO nanoparticles are less toxic to 3T3-L1 adipose cells (diabetic) compared with spherically and rod-shaped MgO nanoparticles. MTT assays using VERO cells (normal, non-diabetic) showed that 400 μg/ml of hexagonal MgO nanoparticles were less toxic to both diabetic and non-diabetic cells. DNS glucose assay and western blot showed that hexagonally shaped MgO nanoparticles had reversed 29.5% of insulin resistance whilst fluorescence microscopy studies indicated that the insulin resistance reversal is due to the activation of intracellular enzymes. The probable mechanism for MgO nanoparticles to induce cytotoxic effect and insulin resistance reversal is discussed.


Diabetes Insulin resistance MgO nanoparticles Sol-gel MTT assay DNS glucose assay 



The authors wish to acknowledge Curtin University, Malaysia, for its financial support through the Curtin Sarawak Postgraduate Research Scholarship (CSPRS) scheme, and Life Teck Research Centre, Chennai, India for their support in cell line studies.

Author Contribution

Dr. Jaison Jeevanandam performed the experiments, Dr. Jaison and Dr. Yen San Chan drafted the manuscript, Prof. Michael Danquah contributed with mechanisms, and Dr. Ming Chiat Law and Prof. Michael Danquah assisted in improving the quality of the manuscript. All authors have reviewed the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12010_2019_3166_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.5 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1560 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and ScienceCurtin UniversityMiriMalaysia
  2. 2.Chemical Engineering DepartmentUniversity of TennesseeChattanoogaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and ScienceCurtin UniversityMiriMalaysia

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