Toxicol Res.2016 5(2):407-419

Health hazards of methylammonium lead iodide based perovskites: cytotoxicity studies

Iness R. Benmessaoud,a   Anne-Laure Mahul-Mellier,b   Endre Horváth,a   Bohumil Maco,b   Massimo Spina,a   Hilal A. Lashuel*b and   Làszló Forró*a  
*Corresponding authors
a Laboratory of Physics of Complex Matter, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
b Laboratory of Molecular and Chemical Biology of Neurodegeneration, EPFL, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland


New technologies launch novel materials; besides their performances in products, their health hazards must be tested. This applies to the lead halide perovskite CH3NH3PbI3 as well, which offers fulgurate applications in photovoltaic devices. We report the effects of CH3NH3PbI3 photovoltaic perovskites in human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial cells (A549), human dopaminergic neuroblastoma cells (SH-SY5Y) and murine primary hippocampal neurons by using multiple assays and electron microscopy studies. In cell culture media the major part of the dissolved CH3NH3PbI3 has a strong cell-type dependent effect. Hippocampal primary neurons and neuroblastoma cells suffer a massive apoptotic cell death, whereas exposure to lung epithelial cells dramatically alters the kinetics of proliferation, metabolic activity and cellular morphology without inducing noticeable cell death. Our findings underscore the critical importance of conducting further studies to investigate the effect of short and long-term exposure to CH3NH3PbI3 on health and environment.


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