Plutonium uptake and distribution in mammalian cells: Molecular vs. polymeric plutonium

Baikuntha P. Aryal, Drew Gorman-Lewis, Tatjana Paunesku, Richard E. Wilson, Barry Lai, Stefan Vogt, Gayle E Woloschak, Mark P. Jensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose: To study the cellular responses to molecular and polymeric forms of plutonium using PC12 cells derived from a rat pheochromocytoma. Materials and methods: Serum starved PC12 cells were exposed to polymeric and molecular forms of plutonium for 3 h. Cells were washed with 10 mM ethylene glycol tetraacetic acid (EGTA), 100 mM NaCl at pH 7.4 to remove surface sorbed plutonium. Localization of plutonium in individual cell was quantitatively analyzed by synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (XRF) microscopy. Results: Molecular plutonium complexes introduced to cell growth media in the form of nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA), citrate, or transferrin complexes were taken up by PC12 cells, and mostly colocalized with iron within the cells. Aged polymeric plutonium prepared separately was not internalized by PC12 cells but it was always found on the cell surface as big agglomerates; however, polymeric plutonium formed in situ was mostly found within the cells as agglomerates. Conclusions: PC12 cells can differentiate molecular and polymeric forms of plutonium. Molecular plutonium is taken up by PC12 cells and mostly co-localizes with iron but aged polymeric plutonium is not internalized by the cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1023-1032
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Molecular plutonium
  • PC12 cells
  • Plutonium polymer
  • X-ray fluorescence microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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