Assessment of functionalized iron oxide nanoparticles in vitro: introduction to integrated nanoimpact index
Functionalization of super paramagnetic iron oxide NPs (SPIONs) with different coatings renders them with unique physicochemical properties that allow them to be used in a broad range of applications such as drug targeting and water purification. However, it is required to fill the gap between the promises of any new functionalized SPIONs and the effects of these coatings on the NPs safety. Nanotoxicology is offering diverse strategies to assess the effect of exposure to SPIONs in a case-by-case manner but an integrated nanoimpact scale has not been developed yet. We have implemented the classical integrated biological response (IBR) into an integrated nanoimpact index (INI) as an early warning scale of nano-impact based on a combination of toxicological end points such as cell proliferation, oxidative stress, apoptosis and genotoxicity. Here, the effect of SPIONs functionalized with tri-sodium citrate (TSC), polyethylenimine (PEI), aminopropyl-triethoxysilane (APTES) and Chitosan (chitosan) were assessed on human keratinocytes and endothelial cells. Our results show that endothelial cells were more sensitive to exposure than keratinocytes and the initial cell culture density modulated the toxicity. PEI-SPIONs had the strongest effects in both cell types while TSC-SPIONS were the most biocompatible. This study emphasizes not only the importance of surface coatings but also the cell type and the initial cell density on the selection of toxicity assays. The INI developed here could offer an initial rationale to choose either modifying SPIONs properties to reduce its nanoimpact or performing a complete risk assessment to define the risk boundaries.