Subtoxic cell responses to silica particles with different size and shape

Kersting, M. and Olejnik, M. and Rosenkranz, N. and Loza, K. and Breisch, M. and Rostek, A. and Westphal, G. and Bünger, J. and Ziegler, N. and Ludwig, Al. and Köller, M. and Sengstock, C. and Epple, M.

Volume: 10 Pages:
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-78550-5
Published: 2020

Health risks from particles are a priority challenge to health protection at work. Despite the ubiquitous exposure to a wide range of particles and the many years of research in this field, there are fundamental unresolved questions regarding the prevention of particle-related respiratory diseases. Here, the highly relevant particulate material silicon dioxide was analyzed with emphasis on defined size and shape. Silica particles were prepared with different size and shape: Spheres (NS nanospheres 60 nm; SMS submicrospheres 230 nm; MS microspheres 430 nm) and rods (SMR submicrorods with d = 125 nm, L = 230 nm; aspect ratio 1:1.8; MR microrods with d = 100 nm, L = 600 nm; aspect ratio 1:6). After an in-depth physicochemical characterization, their effects on NR8383 alveolar macrophages were investigated. The particles were X-ray amorphous, well dispersed, and not agglomerated. Toxic effects were only observed at high concentrations, i.e. ≥ 200 µg mL−1, with the microparticles showing a stronger significant effect on toxicity (MS≈MR > SMR≈SMS≈NS) than the nanoparticles. Special attention was directed to effects in the subtoxic range (less than 50% cell death compared to untreated cells), i.e. below 100 µg mL−1 where chronic health effects may be expected. All particles were readily taken up by NR8383 cells within a few hours and mainly found associated with endolysosomes. At subtoxic levels, neither particle type induced strongly adverse effects, as probed by viability tests, detection of reactive oxygen species (ROS), protein microarrays, and cytokine release (IL-1β, GDF-15, TNF-α, CXCL1). In the particle-induced cell migration assay (PICMA) with leukocytes (dHL-60 cells) and in cytokine release assays, only small effects were seen. In conclusion, at subtoxic concentrations, where chronic health effects may be expected, neither size and nor shape of the synthesized chemically identical silica particles showed harmful cell-biological effects. © 2020, The Author(s).

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