Nanoparticle induced barrier function assessment at liquid–liquid and air–liquid interface in novel human lung epithelia cell lines†
Inhalation is the most relevant entry point for nanoparticles (NPs) into the human body. To date, toxicity testing of nanomaterials in respect to oral, dermal and inhalative application is mainly based on animal experiments. The development of alternative test methods is the subject of current research. In vitro models can help to investigate mechanistic aspects, as e.g. cellular uptake or genotoxicity and might help to reduce in vivo testing. Lung cell lines are proper in vitro tools to assess NP toxicity. In respect to this, various cell models have been developed during the recent years, but often lack in a proper intact barrier function. However, besides other important in vivo criteria which are still missing like e.g. circulation, this is one basic prerequisite to come closer to the in vivo situation in certain mechanistic aspects such as particle translocation which is an important task for risk assessment of nanomaterials. Novel developed in vitro models may help to investigate the translocation of nanomaterials from the lung. We investigated the barrier function of the recently developed human lung cell lines CI-hAELVi and CI-huAEC. The cells were further exposed to CeO2 NPs and ZnO NPs, and their suitability as in vitro models for toxicological investigations was proven. The obtained data were compared with data generated with the A549 cell line. Measurement of transepithelial resistance and immunohistochemical examination of tight junctions confirmed the formation of a functional barrier for both cell lines for submerged and air–liquid cultivation. For particle exposure, hAELVi and huAEC cells showed comparable results to A549 cells without losing the barrier function. CeO2 NP exposure revealed no toxicity for all cell lines. In contrast, ZnO NPs was toxic for all cell lines at a concentration between 10–50 μg ml−1. Due to the comparable results to A549 cells CI-hAELVi and CI-huAEC offer new opportunities to investigate nanoparticle cell interactions more realistic than recent 2D cell models.