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1.  Differential stress reaction of human colon cells to oleic-acid-stabilized and unstabilized ultrasmall iron oxide nanoparticles 
Therapeutic engineered nanoparticles (NPs), including ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO) NPs, may accumulate in the lower digestive tract following ingestion or injection. In order to evaluate the reaction of human colon cells to USPIO NPs, the effects of non-stabilized USPIO NPs (NS-USPIO NPs), oleic-acid-stabilized USPIO NPs (OA-USPIO NPs), and free oleic acid (OA) were compared in human HT29 and CaCo2 colon epithelial cancer cells. First the biophysical characteristics of NS-USPIO NPs and OA-USPIO NPs in water, in cell culture medium supplemented with fetal calf serum, and in cell culture medium preconditioned by HT29 and CaCo2 cells were determined. Then, stress responses of the cells were evaluated following exposure to NS-USPIO NPs, OA-USPIO NPs, and free OA. No modification of the cytoskeletal actin network was observed. Cell response to stress, including markers of apoptosis and DNA repair, oxidative stress and degradative/autophagic stress, induction of heat shock protein, or lipid metabolism was determined in cells exposed to the two NPs. Induction of an autophagic response was observed in the two cell lines for both NPs but not free OA, while the other stress responses were cell- and NP-specific. The formation of lipid vacuoles/droplets was demonstrated in HT29 and CaCo2 cells exposed to OA-USPIO NPs but not to NS-USPIO NPs, and to a much lower level in cells exposed to equimolar concentrations of free OA. Therefore, the induction of lipid vacuoles in colon cells exposed to OA utilized as a stabilizer for USPIO NPs is higly amplified compared to free OA, and is not observed in the absence of this lipid in NS-USPIO NPs.
PMCID: PMC4114909  PMID: 25092978
oleic acid; ultrasmall iron oxide nanoparticles; human colon cells; lipid vacuoles; stress reaction; heat shock proteins
2.  Interlaboratory comparison of size measurements on nanoparticles using nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) 
One of the key challenges in the field of nanoparticle (NP) analysis is in producing reliable and reproducible characterisation data for nanomaterials. This study looks at the reproducibility using a relatively new, but rapidly adopted, technique, Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) on a range of particle sizes and materials in several different media. It describes the protocol development and presents both the data and analysis of results obtained from 12 laboratories, mostly based in Europe, who are primarily QualityNano members. QualityNano is an EU FP7 funded Research Infrastructure that integrates 28 European analytical and experimental facilities in nanotechnology, medicine and natural sciences with the goal of developing and implementing best practice and quality in all aspects of nanosafety assessment. This study looks at both the development of the protocol and how this leads to highly reproducible results amongst participants. In this study, the parameter being measured is the modal particle size.
PMCID: PMC3857864  PMID: 24348090
Nanoparticle; Interlaboratory comparison; Reproducibility; Polydispersity; Toxicology; Health and safety implications
3.  Citrullination of proteins: a common post-translational modification pathway induced by different nanoparticles in vitro and in vivo 
Nanomedicine (London, England)  2012;7(8):1181-1195.
Rapidly expanding manufacture and use of nanomaterials emphasize the requirements for thorough assessment of health outcomes associated with novel applications. Post-translational protein modifications catalyzed by Ca2+-dependent peptidylargininedeiminases have been shown to trigger immune responses including autoantibody generation, a hallmark of immune complexes deposition in rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, the aim of the study was to assess if nanoparticles are able to promote protein citrullination.
Materials & methods
Human A549 and THP-1 cells were exposed to silicon dioxide, carbon black or single-walled carbon nanotubes. C57BL/6 mice were exposed to respirable single-walled carbon nanotubes. Protein citrullination, peptidylargininedeiminases activity and target proteins were evaluated.
The studied nanoparticles induced protein citrullination both in cultured human cells and mouse lung tissues. Citrullination occurred via the peptidylargininedeiminase-dependent mechanism. Cytokeratines 7, 8, 18 and plectins were identified as intracellular citrullination targets.
Nanoparticle exposure facilitated post-translational citrullination of proteins.
PMCID: PMC3465773  PMID: 22625207
autoimmunity; high content analysis; immune system; inflammation; nanomaterial; nanoparticle; peptidylargininedeiminase; post-translational modification; protein citrullination; rheumatoid arthritis
4.  Citrullination as early-stage indicator of cell response to Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1124.
Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have been widely explored as potential technologies for information systems and medical applications. The impact of SWCNTs on human health is of prime concern, if SWCNTs have a future in the manufacturing industry. This study proposes a novel, inflammation-independent paradigm of toxicity for SWCNTs, identifying the protein citrullination process as early-stage indicator of inflammatory responses of macrophages (THP-1) and of subtle phenotypic damages of lung epithelial (A549) cells following exposure to chemically-treated SWCNTs. Our results showed that, while most of the cellular responses of A549 cells exposed to SWCNTs are different to those of similarly treated THP-1 cells, the protein citrullination process is triggered in a dose- and time-dependent manner in both cell lines, with thresholds comparable between inflammatory (THP-1) and non-inflammatory (A549) cell types. The cellular mechanism proposed herein could have a high impact in predicting the current risk associated with environmental exposure to SWCNTs.
PMCID: PMC3554256  PMID: 23350031
5.  Multifactorial determinants that govern nanoparticle uptake by human endothelial cells under flow 
Vascular endothelium is a potential target for therapeutic intervention in diverse pathological processes, including inflammation, atherosclerosis, and thrombosis. By virtue of their intravascular topography, endothelial cells are exposed to dynamically changing mechanical forces that are generated by blood flow. In the present study, we investigated the interactions of negatively charged 2.7 nm and 4.7 nm CdTe quantum dots and 50 nm silica particles with cultured endothelial cells under regulated shear stress (SS) conditions. Cultured cells within the engineered microfluidic channels were exposed to nanoparticles under static condition or under low, medium, and high SS rates (0.05, 0.1, and 0.5 Pa, respectively). Vascular inflammation and associated endothelial damage were simulated by treatment with tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) or by compromising the cell membrane with the use of low Triton X-100 concentration. Our results demonstrate that SS is critical for nanoparticle uptake by endothelial cells. Maximal uptake was registered at the SS rate of 0.05 Pa. By contrast, endothelial exposure to mild detergents or TNF-α treatment had no significant effect on nanoparticle uptake. Atomic force microscopy demonstrated the increased formation of actin-based cytoskeletal structures, including stress fibers and membrane ruffles, which have been associated with nanoparticle endocytosis. In conclusion, the combinatorial effects of SS rates, vascular endothelial conditions, and nanoparticle physical and chemical properties must be taken into account for the successful design of nanoparticle–drug conjugates intended for parenteral delivery.
PMCID: PMC3384367  PMID: 22745555
endothelium; shear stress; quantum dots; membrane ruffling; stress fibers; atomic force microscopy; microfluidics
6.  IGF1 as a Potential Treatment for Rett Syndrome: Safety Assessment in Six Rett Patients 
Autism Research and Treatment  2012;2012:679801.
Rett syndrome (RTT) is a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder that affects one in ten thousand girls and has no cure. The majority of RTT patients display mutations in the gene that codes for the methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2). Clinical observations and neurobiological analysis of mouse models suggest that defects in the expression of MeCP2 protein compromise the development of the central nervous system, especially synaptic and circuit maturation. Thus, agents that promote brain development and synaptic function, such as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), are good candidates for ameliorating the symptoms of RTT. IGF1 and its active peptide, (1–3) IGF1, cross the blood brain barrier, and (1–3) IGF1 ameliorates the symptoms of RTT in a mouse model of the disease; therefore they are ideal treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders, including RTT. We performed a pilot study to establish whether there are major risks associated with IGF1 administration in RTT patients. Six young girls with classic RTT received IGF1 subcutaneous injections twice a day for six months, and they were regularly monitored by their primary care physicians and by the unit for RTT in Versilia Hospital (Italy). This study shows that there are no risks associated with IGF1 administration.
PMCID: PMC3420537  PMID: 22934177
7.  Activation of stress-related signalling pathway in human cells upon SiO2 nanoparticles exposure as an early indicator of cytotoxicity 
Nanomaterials such as SiO2 nanoparticles (SiO2NP) are finding increasing applications in the biomedical and biotechnological fields such as disease diagnostics, imaging, drug delivery, food, cosmetics and biosensors development. Thus, a mechanistic and systematic evaluation of the potential biological and toxic effects of SiO2NP becomes crucial in order to assess their complete safe applicability limits.
In this study, human monocytic leukemia cell line THP-1 and human alveolar epithelial cell line A549 were exposed to a range of amorphous SiO2NP of various sizes and concentrations (0.01, 0.1 and 0.5 mg/ml). Key biological indicators of cellular functions including cell population density, cellular morphology, membrane permeability, lysosomal mass/pH and activation of transcription factor-2 (ATF-2) were evaluated utilizing quantitative high content screening (HCS) approach and biochemical techniques. Despite the use of extremely high nanoparticle concentrations, our findings showed a low degree of cytotoxicity within the panel of SiO2NP investigated. However, at these concentrations, we observed the onset of stress-related cellular response induced by SiO2NP. Interestingly, cells exposed to alumina-coated SiO2NP showed low level, and in some cases complete absence, of stress response and this was consistent up to the highest dose of 0.5 mg/ml.
The present study demonstrates and highlights the importance of subtle biological changes downstream of primary membrane and endocytosis-associated phenomena resulting from high dose SiO2NP exposure. Increased activation of transcription factors, such as ATF-2, was quantitatively assessed as a function of i) human cell line specific stress-response, ii) SiO2NP size and iii) concentration. Despite the low level of cytotoxicity detected for the amorphous SiO2NP investigated, these findings prompt an in-depth focus for future SiO2NP-cell/tissue investigations based on the combined analysis of more subtle signalling pathways associated with accumulation mechanisms, which is essential for establishing the bio-safety of existing and new nanomaterials.
PMCID: PMC3164618  PMID: 21801388
8.  Internalization of ferromagnetic nanowires by different living cells 
The ability of living cells, either adherent or suspended, to internalize nickel nanowires is demonstrated for MC3T3-E1, UMR106-tumour and Marrow-Stromal cells. Nanowires were produced by electrodeposition, 20 μm long and 200 nm in diameter. Cell separation and manipulation was achieved for the three cell types. Applied magnetic field successfully oriented the internalized nanowires but no clear anisotropy is induced on the adherent cells. Nanowires tend to bind to cytoplasm metalloproteins and trigger lysosome reorganization around the nucleus. This work demonstrates the applications of nanowires in adherent and suspended cells for cell separation and manipulation, and further explore into their role in nanobiotechnology.
PMCID: PMC1592113  PMID: 16953891

Results 1-8 (8)