Cerium oxide nanoparticles (CNPs) are novel synthetic antioxidant agents proposed for treating oxidative stress-related diseases. The synthesis of high-quality CNPs for biomedical applications remains a challenging task. A major concern for a safe use of CNPs as pharmacological agents is their tendency to agglomerate. Herein we present a simple direct precipitation approach, exploiting ethylene glycol as synthesis co-factor, to synthesize at room temperature nanocrystalline sub-10 nm CNPs, followed by a surface silanization approach to improve nanoparticle dispersibility in biological fluids. CNPs were characterized using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observations, X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering (DLS) and zeta potential measurements. CNP redox activity was studied in abiotic systems using electron spin resonance (ESR) measurements, and in vitro on human cell models. In-situ silanization improved CNP colloidal stability, in comparison with non-functionalized particles, and allowed at the same time improving their original biological activity, yielding thus functionalized CNPs suitable for biomedical applications.
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