Correlation between Ionic Liquid Cytotoxicity and Liposome–Ionic Liquid Interactions

Suvi Katriina Ruokonen, Corinna Sanwald, Alexandra Robciuc, Sami Hietala, Antti H. Rantamäki, Joanna Witos, Alistair W.T. King, Michael Lämmerhofer, Susanne K. Wiedmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims at extending the understanding of the toxicity mechanism of ionic liquids (ILs) using various analytical methods and cytotoxicity assays. The cytotoxicity of eight ILs and one zwitterionic compound was determined using mammalian and bacterial cells. The time dependency of the IL toxicity was assessed using human corneal epithelial cells. Hemolysis was performed using human red blood cells and the results were compared with destabilization data of synthetic liposomes upon addition of ILs. The effect of the ILs on the size and zeta potential of liposomes revealed information on changes in the lipid bilayer. Differential scanning calorimetry was used to study the penetration of the ILs into the lipid bilayer. Pulsed field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to determine whether the ILs occurred as unimers, micelles, or if they were bound to liposomes. The results show that the investigated ILs can be divided into three groups based on the cytotoxicity mechanism: cell wall disrupting ILs, ILs exerting toxicity through both cell wall penetration and metabolic alteration, and ILs affecting solely on cell metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2669-2680
Number of pages12
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • analytical methods
  • cytotoxicity
  • ionic liquids
  • liposomes
  • toxicology
  • Cell Line
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Humans
  • Liposomes/chemistry
  • Aliivibrio fischeri/drug effects
  • Erythrocytes/cytology
  • Hemolysis/drug effects
  • Calorimetry, Differential Scanning
  • Epithelium, Corneal/cytology
  • Ionic Liquids/chemistry
  • Dynamic Light Scattering


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