Open Access Open Badges Research

Characterization of physicochemical properties of ivy nanoparticles for cosmetic application

Yujian Huang1, Scott C Lenaghan1, Lijin Xia1, Jason N Burris2, C Neal Jr Stewart2 and Mingjun Zhang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, 37996, USA

2 Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, 37996, USA

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Journal of Nanobiotechnology 2013, 11:3  doi:10.1186/1477-3155-11-3

Published: 1 February 2013



Naturally occurring nanoparticles isolated from English ivy (Hedera helix) have previously been proposed as an alternative to metallic nanoparticles as sunscreen fillers due to their effective UV extinction property, low toxicity and potential biodegradability.


This study focused on analyzing the physicochemical properties of the ivy nanoparticles, specifically, those parameters which are crucial for use as sunscreen fillers, such as pH, temperature, and UV irradiation. The visual transparency and cytotoxicity of ivy nanoparticles were also investigated comparing them with other metal oxide nanoparticles.


Results from this study demonstrated that, after treatment at 100°C, there was a clear increase in the UV extinction spectra of the ivy nanoparticles caused by the partial decomposition. In addition, the UVA extinction spectra of the ivy nanoparticles gradually reduced slightly with the decrease of pH values in solvents. Prolonged UV irradiation indicated that the influence of UV light on the stability of the ivy nanoparticle was limited and time-independent. Compared to TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles, ivy nanoparticles showed better visual transparency. Methylthiazol tetrazolium assay demonstrated that ivy nanoparticles exhibited lower cytotoxicity than the other two types of nanoparticles. Results also suggested that protein played an important role in modulating the three-dimensional structure of the ivy nanoparticles.


Based on the results from this study it can be concluded that the ivy nanoparticles are able to maintain their UV protective capability at wide range of temperature and pH values, further demonstrating their potential as an alternative to replace currently available metal oxide nanoparticles in sunscreen applications.

Ivy nanoparticle; UV extinction; Sunscreen; Physicochemical property