Predicting nanomaterials pulmonary toxicity in animals by cell culture models: Achievements and perspectives

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Animal experiments are highly relevant models for the assessment of toxicological effects of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), due to lack of biomonitoring and epidemiological studies. However, the expanding number of ENMs with different physico-chemical properties strains this approach, as there are ethical concerns and economical challenges with the use of animals in toxicology. There is an urgent need for cell culture models that predict the level of toxicological responses in vivo, consequently reducing or replacing the use of animals in nanotoxicology. However, there is still a limited number of studies on in vitro–in vivo correlation of toxicological responses following ENMs exposure. In this review, we collected studies that have compared in vitro and in vivo toxic effects caused by ENMs. We discuss the influence of cell culture models and exposure systems on the predictability of in vitro models to equivalent toxic effects in animal lungs after pulmonary exposure to ENMs. In addition, we discuss approaches to qualitatively or quantitatively compare the effects in vitro and in vivo. The magnitude of toxicological responses in cells that are exposed in submerged condition is not systematically different from the response in cells exposed in air–liquid interface systems, and there appears to be similar ENMs hazard ranking between the two exposure systems. Overall, we show that simple in vitro models with cells exposed to ENMs in submerged condition can be used to predict toxic effects in vivo, and identify future strategies to improve the associations between in vitro and in vivo ENMs-induced pulmonary toxicity. This article is categorized under: Toxicology and Regulatory Issues in Nanomedicine > Toxicology of Nanomaterials.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1794
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology
Issue number6
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. WIREs Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

    Research areas

  • advanced cell culture models, DNA damage, inflammation, nanomaterials, predictivity

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