Cerium oxide and barium sulfate nanoparticle inhalation affects gene expression in alveolar epithelial cells type II
BACKGROUND: Understanding the molecular mechanisms of nanomaterial interacting with cellular systems is important for appropriate risk assessment. The identification of early biomarkers for potential (sub-)chronic effects of nanoparticles provides a promising approach towards cost-intensive and animal consuming long-term studies. As part of a 90-day inhalation toxicity study with CeO2 NM-212 and BaSO4 NM-220 the present investigations on gene expression and immunohistochemistry should reveal details on underlying mechanisms of pulmonary effects. The role of alveolar epithelial cells type II (AEII cells) is focused since its contribution to defense against inhaled particles and potentially resulting adverse effects is assumed. Low dose levels should help to specify particle-related events, including inflammation and oxidative stress. RESULTS: Rats were exposed to clean air, 0.1, 0.3, 1.0, and 3.0 mg/m(3) CeO2 NM-212 or 50.0 mg/m(3) BaSO4 NM-220 and the expression of 391 genes was analyzed in AEII cells after one, 28 and 90 days exposure. A total number of 34 genes was regulated, most of them related to inflammatory mediators. Marked changes in gene expression were measured for Ccl2, Ccl7, Ccl17, Ccl22, Ccl3, Ccl4, Il-1alpha, Il-1ss, and Il-1rn (inflammation), Lpo and Noxo1 (oxidative stress), and Mmp12 (inflammation/lung cancer). Genes related to genotoxicity and apoptosis did not display marked regulation. Although gene expression was less affected by BaSO4 compared to CeO2 the gene pattern showed great overlap. Gene expression was further analyzed in liver and kidney tissue showing inflammatory responses in both organs and marked downregulation of oxidative stress related genes in the kidney. Increases in the amount of Ce were measured in liver but not in kidney tissue. Investigation of selected genes on protein level revealed increased Ccl2 in bronchoalveolar lavage of exposed animals and increased Lpo and Mmp12 in the alveolar epithelia. CONCLUSION: AEII cells contribute to CeO2 nanoparticle caused inflammatory and oxidative stress reactions in the respiratory tract by the release of related mediators. Effects of BaSO4 exposure are low. However, overlap between both substances were detected and support identification of potential early biomarkers for nanoparticle effects on the respiratory system. Signs for long-term effects need to be further evaluated by comparison to a respective exposure setting.