Aerosol generation and characterization of multi-walled carbon nanotubes exposed to cells cultured at the air-liquid interface

Part Fibre Toxicol. 2016 Apr 23:13:20. doi: 10.1186/s12989-016-0131-y.


Aerosol generation and characterization are critical components in the assessment of the inhalation hazards of engineered nanomaterials (NMs). An extensive review was conducted on aerosol generation and exposure apparatus as part of an international expert workshop convened to discuss the design of an in vitro testing strategy to assess pulmonary toxicity following exposure to aerosolized particles. More specifically, this workshop focused on the design of an in vitro method to predict the development of pulmonary fibrosis in humans following exposure to multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). Aerosol generators, for dry or liquid particle suspension aerosolization, and exposure chambers, including both commercially available systems and those developed by independent researchers, were evaluated. Additionally, characterization methods that can be used and the time points at which characterization can be conducted in order to interpret in vitro exposure results were assessed. Summarized below is the information presented and discussed regarding the relevance of various aerosol generation and characterization techniques specific to aerosolized MWCNTs exposed to cells cultured at the air-liquid interface (ALI). The generation of MWCNT aerosols relevant to human exposures and their characterization throughout exposure in an ALI system is critical for extrapolation of in vitro results to toxicological outcomes in humans.

Keywords: ALI; Aerosol engineering; Air-liquid interface; Cell culture model; Characterization; Exposure; MWCNTs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury / chemically induced*
  • Acute Lung Injury / metabolism
  • Acute Lung Injury / pathology
  • Aerosols
  • Animal Testing Alternatives
  • Animals
  • Blood-Air Barrier / drug effects*
  • Blood-Air Barrier / metabolism
  • Blood-Air Barrier / pathology
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Particle Size
  • Risk Assessment
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*


  • Aerosols
  • Nanotubes, Carbon