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Comparative evaluation of particle properties, formation of reactive oxygen species and genotoxic potential of tungsten carbide based nanoparticles in vitro

: Kühnel, D.; Scheffler, K.; Wellner, P.; Meißner, T.; Potthoff, A.; Busch, W.; Springer, A.; Schirmer, K.


Journal of hazardous materials 227-228 (2012), S.418-426
ISSN: 0304-3894
ISSN: 1873-3336
Fraunhofer IKTS ()
characterization; DNA damage; micronucleus formation; nanoparticle properties; reactive oxygen species (ROS)

Tungsten carbide (WC) and cobalt (Co) are constituents of hard metals and are used for the production of extremely hard tools. Previous studies have identified greater cytotoxic potential of WC-based nanoparticles if particles contained Co. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and micronuclei would help explain the impact on cultured mammalian cells by three different tungsten-based nanoparticles (WC S, WC L, WC L-Co (S: small; L: large)). The selection of particles allowed us to study the influence of particle properties, e.g. surface area, and the presence of Co on the toxicological results. WC S and WC L/WC L-Co differed in their crystalline structure and surface area, whereas WC S/WC L and WC L-Co differed in their cobalt conte nt. WC L and WC L-Co showed neither a genotoxic potential nor ROS induction. Contrary to that, WC S nanoparticles induced the formation of both ROS and micronuclei. CoCl 2 was tested in relevant concentrations and induced no ROS formation, but increased the rate of micronuclei at concentrations exceeding those present in WC L-Co. In conclusion, ROS and micronuclei formation could not be associated with the presence of Co in the WC-based particles. The contrasting responses elicited by WC S vs. WC L appear to be due to large differences in crystalline structure.