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Novel in vitro tools for the assessment of neurotoxicity induced by nanoparticles

Novel in vitro tools for the assessment of neurotoxicity induced by nanoparticles
Nov 19 2018

JRC contributed to research carried out by Italian research organisations in Pavia and Milan. This work demonstrated that new 3D in vitro cell based models can be applied to assess the neurotoxicity of magnetite nanoparticles. 3D  cultures may represent good "near-to-in-vivo" models leading to better interpretation of toxicological effects to humans.

Human exposure to magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (Fe3O4NPs) as magnetite, represent a potential emerging risk, in relation to the increasing application in the industry, such as audio speaker, position sensing, water purification from heavy metals.

On the other hand, these nanoparticles have been also proposed for biomedical applications such as magnetic resonance, imaging, tissue engineering, stem cell labelling and for advanced cancer theranostic applications. However, experimental studies indicate that they can reach the Central Nervous System (CNS), potentially causing adverse effects.

In this study JRC scientists in collaboration with the Maugeri Foundation in Pavia and the University of Milan, developed two types of CNS cell spheroid models using astrocytes and neurons, combining them with standard assays to test potential neurotoxic effects caused by nanoparticle exposure, in particular using Fe3O4NP.

They have been able to monitor 3D Astrocyte and Neuron Spheroids over a 30 day culture period. Recreating the 3D spatial environment of the CNS allows cells in vitro to behave more like their in vivo counterparts, providing robust and manageable model systems that mimic the cell biology present of the nervous system.

Moreover, the 3D cell cultures are advantageous in that they eliminate the species-specific differences (vs. animal models) that often impede interpretation of the preclinical effects in human systems. These in vitro findings add value to the relevance of using new 3D in vitro cell-based models in toxicology and, specifically in the identification of the cytotoxicity of Fe3O4NPs.

Read more in:
U. De Simone et al.:  "Human 3D Cultures as Models for Evaluating Magnetic Nanoparticle CNS Cytotoxicity after Short- and Repeated Long-Term Exposure", Int. J. Mol. Sci. 19 (2018)  1993; doi:10.3390/ijms19071993