Organomodified nanoclays induce less inflammation, acute phase response, and genotoxicity than pristine nanoclays in mice lungs

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Surface modification by different quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) makes nanoclays more compatible with various polymeric matrices, thereby expanding their potential applications. The growing industrial use of nanoclays could potentially pose a health risk for workers. Here, we assessed how surface modification of nanoclays modulates their pulmonary toxicity. An in vitro screening of the unmodified nanoclay Bentonite (montmorillonite) and four organomodified nanoclays (ONC); coated with various QAC, including benzalkonium chloride (BAC), guided the selection of the materials for the in vivo study. Mice were exposed via a single intratracheal instillation to 18, 54, and 162 µg of unmodified Bentonite or dialkyldimethyl-ammonium-coated ONC (NanofilSE3000), or to 6, 18, and 54 µg of a BAC-coated ONC (Nanofil9), and followed for one, 3, or 28 days. All materials induced dose- and time-dependent responses in the exposed mice. However, all doses of Bentonite induced larger, but reversible, inflammation (BAL neutrophils) and acute phase response (Saa3 gene expression in lung) than the two ONC. Similarly, highest levels of DNA strand breaks were found in BAL cells of mice exposed to Bentonite 1 day post-exposure. A significant increase of DNA strand breaks was detected also for NanofilSE3000, 3 days post-exposure. Only mice exposed to Bentonite showed increased Tgf-β gene expression in lung, biomarker of pro-fibrotic processes and hepatic extravasation, 3 days post-exposure. This study indicates that Bentonite treatment with some QAC changes main physical-chemical properties, including shape and surface area, and may decrease their pulmonary toxicity in exposed mice.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)869-892
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Functionalization, occupational health, oxidative stress, particle toxicology, safe by design

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