Graphene oxide nanoparticles (GONPs) have attracted a lot of attention due to their many applications. These applications include batteries, super capacitors, drug delivery and biosensing. However, few studies have investigated the effects of these nanoparticles on the immune system. In this study, the in vitro effects of GONPs on the immune system was evaluated by exposing murine macrophages, RAW 264.7 cells and human whole blood cell cultures (to GONPs. The effects of GONPs on RAW cells were monitored under basal conditions. The whole blood cell cultures were exposed to GONPs in the presence or absence of the mitogens lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and phytohaemmagglutinin (PHA). A number of parameters were monitored for both RAW and whole blood cell cultures, these included cytotoxicity, inflammatory biomarkers, cytokines of the acquired immune system and a proteome profile analysis. The GONPs were cytotoxic to both RAW and whole blood cell cultures at 500 μg/mL. In the absence of LPS, GONPs elicited an inflammatory response from the murine macrophage, RAW and whole blood cell cultures at 15.6 and 5 μg/mL respectively. This activation was further corroborated by proteome profile analysis of both experimental cultures. GONPs inhibited LPS induced interleukin 6 (IL-6) synthesis and PHA induced interferon gamma (IFNγ) synthesis by whole blood cell cultures in a dose dependent manner. In the absence of mitogens, GONPs stimulated IL-10 synthesis by whole blood cell cultures. The current study shows that GONPs modulate immune system biomarkers and that these may pose a health risk to individuals exposed to this type of nanoparticle.
Keywords: cytotoxicity; graphene oxide nanoparticles; humoral immune response; macrophage activation.