Nanomaterials are increasingly used in a variety of industrial processes and consumer products. There are growing concerns about the potential impacts for public health and environment of engineered nanoparticles. The aim of this work was to evaluate a novel impedance-based real time cell analyzer (RTCA) as a high-throughput method for screening the cytotoxicity of nanoparticles and to validate the RTCA results using a conventional cytotoxicity test (MTT). A collection of 11 inorganic nanomaterials (Ag(0), Al(2)O(3), CeO(2), Fe(0), Fe(2)O(3), HfO(2), Mn(2)O(3), SiO(2), TiO(2), ZnO, and ZrO(2)) were tested for potential cytotoxicity to a human bronchial epithelial cell, 16HBE14o-. The data collected by the RTCA system was compared to results obtained using a more traditional methyl tetrazolium (MTT) cytotoxicity assay at selected time points following application of nanomaterials. The most toxic nanoparticles were ZnO, Mn(2)O(3) and Ag(0), with 50% response at concentrations lower than 75 mg/L. There was a good correlation in cytotoxicity measurements between the two methods; however, the RTCA method maintained a distinct advantage in continually following cytotoxicity over time. The results demonstrate the potential and validity of the impedance-based RTCA technique to rapidly screen for nanoparticle toxicity.
We have been investigating the molecular mechanisms by which trichloroethylene (TCE) might induce cardiac malformations in the embryonic heart. Previous results indicated that TCE disrupted expression of genes encoding proteins involved in regulation of intracellular Ca2+, [Ca2+](i), in cardiac cells, including ryanodine receptor isoform 2 (Ryr2), and sarcoendoplasmatic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase, Serca2a. These observations are important in light of the notion that altered cardiac contractility can produce morphological defects. The hypothesis tested in this study is that the TCE-induced changes in gene expression of Ca2+-associated proteins resulted in altered Ca2+ flux regulation. We used real-time PCR and digital imaging microscopy to characterize effects of various doses of TCE on gene expression and Ca2+ response to vasopressin (VP) in rat cardiac H9c2 myocytes. We observed a reduction in Serca2a and Ryr2 expression at 12 and 48 h after exposure to TCE. In addition, we found significant differences in Ca2+ response to VP in cells treated with TCE doses as low as 10 parts per billion. Taken all together, our data strongly indicate that exposure to TCE disrupts the ability of myocytes to regulate cellular Ca2+ fluxes. Perturbation of calcium signaling alters cardiac cell physiology and signal transduction and may hint to morphogenetic consequences in the context of heart development. These results point to a novel area of TCE biology and, if confirmed in vivo, may help to explain the apparent cardio-specific toxicity of TCE exposure in the rodent embryo.
During homeostasis and in response to injury, alveolar type II (AT2) cells serve as progenitor cells to proliferate, migrate, differentiate, and re-establish both alveolar type I (AT1) and AT2 cells into a functional alveolar epithelium. To understand specific changes in cell differentiation, we monitored morphological characteristics and cell-specific protein markers over time for isolated rat AT2 cells cultured on combinations of collagen, fibronectin and/or laminin-5 (Ln5). For all matrices tested, cultured AT2 cells displayed reduced expression of AT2 cell-specific markers from days 1 to 4 and increased expression of AT1-specific markers by day 3, with continued expression until at least day 5. Over days 5 to 7 in culture, cells took on an AT1-like phenotype (on collagen/fibronectin alone; collagen alone; or Ln5 alone), an AT2-like phenotype (on collagen/fibronectin/Ln5; or collagen/Ln5), or both AT1-like and AT2-like phenotypes (on collagen/fibronectin matrix with a subsaturating amount of Ln5). Cells transferred between matrices at day 4 of culture retained the ability to alter day 7 phenotype. We conclude that in vitro, (1) AT2 cells exhibited phenotype plasticity that included an intermediate cell type with both AT1 and AT2 cell characteristics independent of day 7 phenotype; (2) both collagen and Ln5 were needed to promote the development of an AT2-like phenotype at day 7; and (3) components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) contribute to phenotypic switching of alveolar cells in culture. The described tissue culture models provide accessible models for studying changes in alveolar epithelial cell physiology from AT2 cell progenitors to the establishment of alveolar epithelial monolayers that represent AT1-like, AT2-like, or a mix of AT1- and AT2-like cells.