Blog Archives

Differential Expression of Syndecan-1 Mediates Cationic Nanoparticle Toxicity in Undifferentiated versus Differentiated Normal Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells

p11Most in vitro toxicity studies on engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) use transformed rather than primary cells for logistical reasons. However, primary cells may provide a more appropriate connection to in vivo toxicity because these cells maintain their phenotypic fidelity and are also capable of differentiating into lineages that may be differently affected by potentially hazardous ENMs. Few studies to date have focused on the role of cellular differentiation in determining ENM toxicity. We compared the response of undifferentiated and differentiated human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells to cationic mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) that are coated with polyethyleneimine (PEI) since this polymer is known to exert differential cytotoxicity depending on its molecular weight and cationic density. The attachment of cationic PEI polymers to the MSNP surface was used to assess these materials’ toxicological potential in undifferentiated and differentiated human bronchial epithelial cells, using a multiparametric assay that screens for an integrated set of sublethal and lethal response outcomes. MSNPs coated with high molecular weight (10 and 25 kD) polymers were more toxic in differentiated cells than particles coated with shorter length polymers. The increased susceptibility of the differentiated cells is in agreement with more abundant expression of a proteoglycan, syndecan-1, which contains copious heparin sulfate side chains. Pretreatment with heparinase to remove the negatively charged sulfates decreased MSNP-PEI binding to the cell surface and lowered the cytotoxic potential of the cationic particles. These data demonstrate the importance of studying cellular differentiation as an important variable in the response of primary cells to toxic ENM properties.

Zhang H, Xia T, Meng H, Xue M, George S, Ji Z, Wang X, Liu R, Wang M, France B, Rallo R, et al. (2011) Differential Expression of Syndecan-1 Mediates Cationic Nanoparticle Toxicity in Undifferentiated versus Differentiated Normal Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells. ACS Nano, 5(4):2756-2769


No time to lose–high throughput screening to assess nanomaterial safety

p12Nanomaterials hold great promise for medical, technological and economical benefits. Knowledge concerning the toxicological properties of these novel materials is typically lacking. At the same time, it is becoming evident that some nanomaterials could have a toxic potential in humans and the environment. Animal based systems lack the needed capacity to cope with the abundance of novel nanomaterials being produced, and thus we have to employ in vitro methods with high throughput to manage the rush logistically and use high content readouts wherever needed in order to gain more depth of information. Towards this end, high throughput screening (HTS) and high content screening (HCS) approaches can be used to speed up the safety analysis on a scale that commensurate with the rate of expansion of new materials and new properties. The insights gained from HTS/HCS should aid in our understanding of the tenets of nanomaterial hazard at biological level as well as assist the development of safe-by-design approaches. This review aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to the HTS/HCS methodology employed for safety assessment of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), including data analysis and prediction of potentially hazardous material properties. Given the current pace of nanomaterial development, HTS/HCS is a potentially effective means of keeping up with the rapid progress in this field–we have literally no time to lose.

Damoiseaux R; George S; Li M; Pokhrel S; Ji Z; France B; Xia T,Suarez E; Rallo R; Maedler L; Cohen Y; Hoek EMV; Nel A. (2011) No time to lose – high throughput screening to assess nanomaterial safety (Review Article). Nanoscale, 3(4):1345-1360

Use of a high throughput screening approach coupled with in vivo zebrafish embryo screening to develop hazard ranking of engineered nanomaterials

p13Because of concerns about the safety of a growing number of engineered nanomaterials (ENM), it is necessary to develop high-throughput screening and in silico data transformation tools that can speed up in vitro hazard ranking. Here, we report the use of a multiparametric, automated screening assay that incorporates sublethal and lethal cellular injury responses to perform high-throughput analysis of a batch of commercial metal/metal oxide nanoparticles (NP) with the inclusion of a quantum dot (QD1). The responses chosen for tracking cellular injury through automated epifluorescence microscopy included ROS production, intracellular calcium flux, mitochondrial depolarization, and plasma membrane permeability. The z-score transformed high volume data set was used to construct heat maps for in vitro hazard ranking as well as showing the similarity patterns of NPs and response parameters through the use of self- organizing maps (SOM). Among the materials analyzed, QD1 and nano-ZnO showed the most prominent lethality, while Pt, Ag, SiO2, Al2O3, and Au triggered sublethal effects but without cytotoxicity. In order to compare the in vitro with the in vivo response outcomes in zebrafish embryos, NPs were used to assess their impact on mortality rate, hatching rate, cardiac rate, and morphological defects. While QDs, ZnO, and Ag induced morphological abnormalities or interfered in embryo hatching, Pt and Ag exerted inhibitory effects on cardiac rate. Ag toxicity in zebrafish differed from the in vitro results, which is congruent with this material’s designation as extremely dangerous in the environment. Interestingly, while toxicity in the initially selected QD formulation was due to a solvent (toluene), supplementary testing of additional QDs selections yielded in vitro hazard profiling that reflect the release of chalcogenides. In conclusion, the use of a high-throughput screening, in silico data handling and zebrafish testing may constitute a paradigm for rapid and integrated ENM toxicological screening.

George S, Xia T, Rallo R, et al. (2011) Use of a high throughput screening approach coupled with in vivo zebrafish embryo screening to develop hazard ranking of engineered nanomaterial. ACS Nano, 5(3):1805-1817

Self-Organizing Map Analysis of Toxicity-related Cell Signaling Pathways for Metal and Metal Oxide Nanoparticles

p14The response of a murine macrophage cell line exposed to a library of seven metal and metal oxide nanoparticles was evaluated via High Throughput Screening (HTS) assay employing luciferase-reporters for ten independent toxicity-related signaling pathways. Similarities of toxicity response among the nanoparticles were identified via Self-Organizing Map (SOM) analysis. This analysis, applied to the HTS data, quantified the significance of the signaling pathway responses (SPRs) of the cell population ex- posed to nanomaterials relative to a population of untreated cells, using the Strictly Standardized Mean Difference (SSMD). Given the high dimensionality of the data and relatively small data set, the validity of the SOM clusters was established via a consensus clus- tering technique. Analysis of the SPR signatures revealed two cluster groups corresponding to (i) sublethal pro-inflammatory responses to Al2O3, Au, Ag, SiO2 nanoparticles possibly related to ROS generation, and (ii) lethal genotoxic responses due to exposure to ZnO and Pt nanoparticles at a concentration range of 25-100 μg/mL at 12 h exposure. In addition to identifying and visualizing clusters and quantifying similarity measures, the SOM approach can aid in developing predictive quantitative-structure relations; however, this would require significantly larger data sets generated from combinatorial libraries of engineered nanoparticles.

Rallo R, France B, Liu R, Nair S, George S, Damoiseaux R, Giralt F, et al. (2011) Self-Organizing Map Analysis of Toxicity-related Cell Signaling Pathways for Metal and Metal Oxide Nanoparticles. Environmental Science and Technology, 45(4): 1695-1702