Stimulation of neuronal cells generally resorts to electric signals. Recent advances in laser-based stimulation methods could present an alternative with superior spatiotemporal resolution. The avoidance of electronic crosstalk makes these methods attractive for in vivo therapeutic application. In particular, nano-mediators, such as gold nanoparticles, can be used to transfer the energy from a laser pulse to the cell membrane and subsequently activate excitable cells. Although the underlying mechanisms of neuronal activation have been widely unraveled, the overall effect on the targeted cell is not understood. Little is known about the physiological and pathophysiological impact of a laser pulse targeted onto nanoabsorbers on the cell membrane. Here, we analyzed the reaction of the neuronal murine cell line Neuro-2A and murine primary cortical neurons to gold nanoparticle mediated laser stimulation. Our study reveals a severe, complex and cell-type independent stress response after laser irradiation, emphasizing the need for a thorough assessment of this approach's efficacy and safety.
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