• 1 Faculty of Defence Science and Technology, National Defence University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur 57000, Malaysia
  • 2 Department of Biological Sciences, School of Medical and Life Sciences, Sunway University, Subang Jaya 47500, Malaysia
  • 3 Department of Chemistry, School of Technology, Pandit Deendayal Energy University, Gandhinagar 382007, India
  • 4 Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
  • 5 Research Centre for Nano-Materials and Energy Technology (RCNMET), School of Engineering and Technology, Sunway University, Petaling Jaya 47500, Malaysia
  • 6 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
Materials (Basel), 2021 Aug 04;14(16).
PMID: 34442891 DOI: 10.3390/ma14164370


The MXenes are a novel family of 2-D materials with promising biomedical activity, however, their anticancer potential is still largely unexplored. In this study, a comparative cytotoxicity investigation of Ti3C2 MXenes with polypropylene glycol (PPG), and polyethylene glycol (PEG) surface-modified 2-D Ti3C2 MXene flakes has been conducted towards normal and cancerous human cell lines. The wet chemical etching method was used to synthesize MXene followed by a simple chemical mixing method for surface modification of Ti3C2 MXene with PPG and PEG molecules. SEM and XRD analyses were performed to examine surface morphology and elemental composition, respectively. FTIR and UV-vis spectroscopy were used to confirm surface modification and light absorption, respectively. The cell lines used to study the cytotoxicity of MXene and surface-modified MXenes in this study were normal (HaCaT and MCF-10A) and cancerous (MCF-7 and A375) cells. These cell lines were also used as controls (without exposure to study material and irradiation) to measure their baseline cell viability under the same lab environment. The surface-modified MXenes exhibited a sharp reduction in cell viability towards both normal (HaCaT and MCF-10A) and cancerous (MCF-7 and A375) cells but cytotoxicity was more pronounced towards cancerous cell lines. This may be due to the difference in cell metabolism and the occurrence of high pre-existing levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within cancerous cells. The highest toxicity towards both normal and cancerous cell lines was observed with PEGylated MXenes followed by PPGylated and bare MXenes. The normal cell's viability was barely above 70% threshold with 250 mg/L PEGylated MXene concentration whereas PPGylated and bare MXene were less toxic towards normal cells, even at 500 mg/L concentration. Moreover, the toxicity was found to be directly related to the type of cell lines. In general, the HaCaT cell line exhibited the lowest toxicity while toxicity was highest in the case of the A375 cell line. The photothermal studies revealed high photo response for PEGylated MXene followed by PPGylated and bare MXenes. However, the PPGylated MXene's lower cytotoxicity towards normal cells while comparable toxicity towards malignant cells as compared to PEGylated MXenes makes the former a relatively safe and effective anticancer agent.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.