There is increasing evidence that metals have a role in the etiology of diverse neurological diseases. This study used PC12 cells as an in vitro model to examine the toxicity of tungsten alloys that have important military applications. Initially, the relative concentrations of tungsten (W), nickel (Ni), and cobalt (Co) mobilized from pellets of a weapons-grade tungsten alloy incubated in physiologically relevant solutions were determined. Dosing solutions of soluble metal salts that were equivalent in ratio to those mobilized from these alloy pellets were used to treat nerve growth factor (NGF) differentiated PC12 cells. Treatments consisted of single (W, Ni or Co), paired (W/Ni, W/Co or Ni/Co) or complete (W/Ni/Co) metal exposures for 24 h followed by measurement of cytotoxicity, viability, and microarray analysis to examine their impact on survival and viability, global gene expression, and biological processes. Gene expression changed dramatically with addition of NGF. Addition of Ni or Co either singly or in combination further impacted gene expression. An observed additive effect of Ni and Co on gene expression was unaffected by the addition of W. The work showed that tungsten, as found in this tungsten alloy, had minimal relative toxicity as compared to the other alloy components when used either alone or in combination.
Keywords: Cobalt; Metal alloy; Metal mixture; Microarray; Tungstate; Tungsten.