Our lungs are exposed to a multitude of hazardous airborne particles on a daily basis. Nanoparticles, due to their small size, may reach the sensitive alveolar region of the human lung and trigger inflammation even after a single inhalation leading to severe diseases such as heart disease, brain damage and lung cancer for prolonged exposure..
In manufacturing, toxic nanoparticles may be released into the environment during the production, processing, degradation or combustion of materials.
Despite advances in models for nanotoxicology, currently neither in vitro nor in silico testing tools can reliably predict adverse outcomes or replace in vivo testing.
In order to facilitate the introduction of safer materials into our lives, novel testing strategies are needed to predict the potential toxicity of industrial nanoparticles before and during the manufacturing process.
In cooperation with partners from the SmartNanoTox EU project, the research group discovered that for certain materials the long-lasting inflammatory response to a single exposure to a nanoparticle can originate from two cellular key events which were so far unknown: First, the quarantining process which is the deposition of excreted immobile composites of the nanoparticles wrapped with biological molecules on the cell surface.
Second, the so-called nanomaterial cycling which entails the movement of the nanoparticles between different alveolar lung cell types (Advanced Materials, "Prediction of Chronic Inflammation for Inhaled Particles: the Impact of Material Cycling and Quarantining in the Lung Epithelium").
In silico modeling of particle-cell interactions for the prediction of respiratory nanoparticle toxicity (graphical display).
Image: Helmholtz Zentrum München
Stöger adds: "Being able to make such a prediction means that we can move a step closer to a safe-by-design material development. This will have profound implications on the safety, speed and cost-effectiveness of new materials."
This study introduces an alternative animal-free testing strategy, capable for high-throughput testing and connectable with in silico modelling.
German Research Center for Environmental Health.Posted: Nov 24, 2020.