Biomechanical effects of environmental and engineered particles on human airway smooth muscle cells.
Combustion-derived and manufactured nanoparticles (NPs) are known to provoke oxidative stress and inflammatory responses in human lung cells; therefore, they play an important role during the development of adverse health effects. As the lungs are composed of more than 40 different cell types, it is of particular interest to perform toxicological studies with co-cultures systems, rather than with monocultures of only one cell type, to gain a better understanding of complex cellular reactions upon exposure to toxic substances. Monocultures of A549 human epithelial lung cells, human monocyte-derived macrophages and monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDCs) as well as triple cell co-cultures consisting of all three cell types were exposed to combustion-derived NPs (diesel exhaust particles) and to manufactured NPs (titanium dioxide and single-walled carbon nanotubes). The penetration of particles into cells was analysed by transmission electron microscopy. The amount of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and the production of tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interleukin (IL)-8 were quantified. The results of the monocultures were summed with an adjustment for the number of each single cell type in the triple cell co-culture. All three particle types were found in all cell and culture types. The production of ROS was induced by all particle types in all cell cultures except in monocultures of MDDCs. The TAC and the (pro-)inflammatory reactions were not statistically significantly increased by particle exposure in any of the cell cultures. Interestingly, in the triple cell co-cultures, the TAC and IL-8 concentrations were lower and the TNF-alpha concentrations were higher than the expected values calculated from the monocultures. The interplay of different lung cell types seems to substantially modulate the oxidative stress and the inflammatory responses after NP exposure.