Toxic and Genomic Influences of Inhaled Nanomaterials as a Basis for Predicting Adverse Outcome

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2018 Apr;15(Suppl 2):S91-S97. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201706-478MG.


An immense variety of different types of engineered nanomaterials are currently being developed and increasingly applied to consumer products. Importantly, engineered nanomaterials may pose unexplored adverse health effects because of their small size. Particularly in occupational settings, the dustiness of certain engineered nanomaterials involves risk of inhalation and influences on lung function. These facts call for quick and cost-effective safety testing practices, such as that obtained through multiparametric high-throughput screening using cultured human lung cells. The predictive value of such in vitro-based testing depends partly on the effectiveness of coverage of the mechanisms underlying toxicity effects. The concept of adverse outcome pathways covers the array of causative effects starting from a molecular initiating event via cellular-, organ-, individual-, and population-level effects. Screening for adverse outcome pathway-related effects that drive the eventual toxic outcome provides a good basis for developing predictive testing methods and data-driven integrated testing strategies for hazard and risk assessment. Temporal and inherited genomic changes are likely to drive many adverse responses to engineered nanomaterials, such as multiwalled carbon nanotubes, of which one specific form has recently been evaluated as possibly carcinogenic. Here, we briefly describe current state-of-the-art strategies for analyzing and understanding genomic influences of engineered nanomaterial exposure, including the selected focus on lung disease, and strategies for using mechanistic knowledge to predict and prevent adverse outcome.

Keywords: adverse outcome pathways; asbestos; lung disease; multiwalled carbon nanotubes; nanosafety.

Publication types

  • Lecture
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Lung Diseases / genetics*
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Toxicogenetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects


  • Nanotubes, Carbon