Use of EpiAlveolar Lung Model to Predict Fibrotic Potential of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes

ACS Nano. 2020 Apr 28;14(4):3941-3956. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.9b06860. Epub 2020 Mar 20.


Expansion in production and commercial use of nanomaterials increases the potential human exposure during the lifecycle of these materials (production, use, and disposal). Inhalation is a primary route of exposure to nanomaterials; therefore it is critical to assess their potential respiratory hazard. Herein, we developed a three-dimensional alveolar model (EpiAlveolar) consisting of human primary alveolar epithelial cells, fibroblasts, and endothelial cells, with or without macrophages for predicting long-term responses to aerosols. Following thorough characterization of the model, proinflammatory and profibrotic responses based on the adverse outcome pathway concept for lung fibrosis were assessed upon repeated subchronic exposures (up to 21 days) to two types of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and silica quartz particles. We simulate occupational exposure doses for the MWCNTs (1-30 μg/cm2) using an air-liquid interface exposure device (VITROCELL Cloud) with repeated exposures over 3 weeks. Specific key events leading to lung fibrosis, such as barrier integrity and release of proinflammatory and profibrotic markers, show the responsiveness of the model. Nanocyl induced, in general, a less pronounced reaction than Mitsui-7, and the cultures with human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) showed the proinflammatory response at later time points than those without MDMs. In conclusion, we present a robust alveolar model to predict inflammatory and fibrotic responses upon exposure to MWCNTs.

Keywords: air−liquid interface; human primary cells; long-term repeated exposures; lung model; multiwalled carbon nanotubes; pulmonary fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't