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Nanotoxicology. 2016;10(5):619-28. doi: 10.3109/17435390.2015.1107142. Epub 2015 Nov 23.

In vitro screening of metal oxide nanoparticles for effects on neural function using cortical networks on microelectrode arrays.

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a Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park , NC , USA.


Nanoparticles (NPs) may translocate to the brain following inhalation or oral exposures, yet higher throughput methods to screen NPs for potential neurotoxicity are lacking. The present study examined effects of 5 CeO2 (5- 1288 nm), and 4 TiO2 (6-142 nm) NPs and microparticles (MP) on network function in primary cultures of rat cortex on 12 well microelectrode array (MEA) plates. Particles were without cytotoxicity at concentrations ≤50 µg/ml. After recording 1 h of baseline activity prior to particle (3-50 µg/ml) exposure, changes in the total number of spikes (TS) and # of active electrodes (#AEs) were assessed 1, 24, and 48 h later. Following the 48 h recording, the response to a challenge with the GABAA antagonist bicuculline (BIC; 25 µM) was assessed. In all, particles effects were subtle, but 69 nm CeO2 and 25 nm TiO2 NPs caused concentration-related decreases in TS following 1 h exposure. At 48 h, 5 and 69 nm CeO2 and 25 and 31 nm TiO2 decreased #AE, while the two MPs increased #AEs. Following BIC, only 31 nm TiO2 produced concentration-related decreases in #AEs, while 1288 nm CeO2 caused concentration-related increases in both TS and #AE. The results indicate that some metal oxide particles cause subtle concentration-related changes in spontaneous and/or GABAA receptor-mediated neuronal activity in vitro at times when cytotoxicity is absent, and that MEAs can be used to screen and prioritize nanoparticles for neurotoxicity hazard.


Nanoparticles; nanotoxicology; particle toxicology

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