A relevant in vitro model of the alveolus enables reliable studies of nanomaterial-cell interactions

author: Hana Majaron, Institut "Jožef Stefan"
published: July 9, 2018,   recorded: May 2018,   views: 528


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Although we are constantly being exposed to airborne nanomaterial, we are still unable to predict its potential adverse outcomes - an issue arising from our lack of understanding of the basic interactions of nanomaterial with biomolecules and our cells. In order to study these biophysical interactions, we designed a simple in vitro model of the lung alveolus, exposed to nanomaterial, which would more closely resemble the actual physiological conditions than the widely-used submerged in vitro models. As such, it would result in more reliable determination of relevant molecular interactions for description of nanomaterial toxicity. We have tested several methods of application of exogenous lung surfactant onto alveolar type II cells, and have found nebulization of lung surfactant to be the superior to pipetting with regard to the homogeneity of the surfactant layer. The subsequent nebulization of highly-concentrated nanoparticles enables a uniform exposure of cells to nanomaterial eliminating the need to disperse nanomaterial using physiologically irrelevant proteins, mainly albumin. Using these two improvements results in a simple in vitro model of lung alveoli, exposed to airborne nanomaterial, which enables studying biophysical interactions on a relevant system in real-time using super-resolution STED microscopy. I will also present the drawbacks of our current in vitro model and some suggested future upgrades.

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