Silica (SiO2) nanoparticles (NPs) have found extensive applications in industrial manufacturing, biomedical and biotechnological fields. Therefore, the increasing exposure to such ultrafine particles requires studies to characterize their potential cytotoxic effects in order to provide exhaustive information to assess the impact of nanomaterials on human health. The understanding of the biological processes involved in the development and maintenance of a variety of pathologies is improved by genome-wide approaches, and in this context, gene set analysis has emerged as a fundamental tool for the interpretation of the results. In this work we show how the use of a combination of gene-by-gene and gene set analyses can enhance the interpretation of results of in vitro treatment of A549 cells with Ludox® colloidal amorphous silica nanoparticles. By gene-by-gene and gene set analyses, we evidenced a specific cell response in relation to NPs size and elapsed time after treatment, with the smaller NPs (SM30) having higher impact on inflammatory and apoptosis processes than the bigger ones. Apoptotic process appeared to be activated by the up-regulation of the initiator genes TNFa and IL1b and by ATM. Moreover, our analyses evidenced that cell treatment with LudoxÒ silica nanoparticles activated the matrix metalloproteinase genes MMP1, MMP10 and MMP9. The information derived from this study can be informative about the cytotoxicity of Ludox® and other similar colloidal amorphous silica NPs prepared by solution processes.
ORganically MOdified SILica (ORMOSIL) nanoparticles (NPs) appear promising carriers for the delivery of drugs to target tissues but concerns on possible cytotoxic effects exist. Here, we studied the in vitro responses to ORMOSIL NPs in different types of human lung cells to determine the effects of polyethylene glycol (PEG) coating on NP cytotoxicity. Non-PEG NPs caused a concentration-dependent decrease of viability of all types of cells, while PEG NPs induced deleterious effects and death in carcinoma alveolar type II A549 cells but not in CCD-34Lu fibroblasts and NCI-H2347 adenocarcinoma cells. Reactive oxygen species were detected in cells incubated with PEG NPs, but their deactivation by superoxide dismutase and catalase did not protect A549 cells from death, suggesting that the oxidative stress was not the main determinant of cytotoxicity. Only in A549 cells PEG NPs modulated the transcription of genes involved in inflammation, signal transduction and cell death. Transmission electron microscopy evidenced a unique intracellular localization of PEG NPs in the lamellar bodies of A549 cells, which could be the most relevant factor leading to cytotoxicity by reducing the production of surfactant proteins and by interfering with the pulmonary surfactant system.
Cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) and photodynamic therapy (PDT) are attractive tools to combat infectious diseases and to stem further development of antibiotic resistance. In an attempt to increase the efficiency of bacteria inactivation, we conjugated a PDT photosensitizer, cationic or neutral porphyrin, to a CAMP, buforin or magainin. The neutral and hydrophobic porphyrin, which is not photoactive per se against Gram-negative bacteria, efficiently photoinactivated Escherichia coli after conjugation to either buforin or magainin. Conjugation to magainin resulted in the considerable strengthening of the cationic and hydrophilic porphyrin's interaction with the bacterial cells, as shown by the higher bacteria photoinactivation activity retained after washing the bacterial suspension. The porphyrin-peptide conjugates also exhibited strong interaction capability as well as photoactivity toward eukaryotic cells, namely, human fibroblasts. These findings suggest that these CAMPs have the potential to carry drugs and other types of cargo inside mammalian cells similar to cell-penetrating peptides.
Perturbations during the cell DNA-Damage Response (DDR) can originate from alteration in the functionality of the microRNA-mediated gene regulation, being microRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding RNAs that act as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. The oncogenic miR-27a is over-expressed in several tumors and, in the present study, we investigated its interaction with ATM, the gene coding for the main kinase of DDR pathway. Experimental validation to confirm miR-27a as a direct regulator of ATM was performed by site-direct mutagenesis of the luciferase reporter vector containing the 3UTR of ATM gene, and by miRNA oligonucleotide mimics. We then explored the functional miR-27a/ATM interaction under biological conditions, i.e., during the response of A549 cells to ionizing radiation (IR) exposure. To evaluate if miR-27a over-expression affects IR-induced DDR activation in A549 cells we determined cell survival, cell cycle progression and DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair. Our results show that up-regulation of miR-27a promotes cell proliferation of non-irradiated and irradiated cells. Moreover, increased expression of endogenous mature miR-27a in A549 cells affects DBS rejoining kinetics early after irradiation.
This study investigated the efficiency of Non-Homologous End Joining (NHEJ) and Homologous Recombination (HR) repair systems in rejoining DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) induced in CCD-34Lu cells by different ?-ray doses. The kinetics of DNA repair was assessed by analyzing the fluorescence decrease of ?-H2AX foci measured by SOID (Sum Of Integrated Density) parameter and counting foci number in the time-interval 0.5-24 hours after irradiation. Comparison of the two methods showed that the SOID parameter was useful in determining the amount and the persistence of DNA damage signal after exposure to high or low doses of ionizing radiation. The efficiency of DSB rejoining during the cell cycle was assessed by distinguishing G1, S, and G2 phase cells on the basis of nuclear fluorescence of the CENP-F protein. Six hours after irradiation, ?-H2AX foci resolution was higher in G2 compared to G1 cells in which both NHEJ and HR can cooperate. The rejoining of ?-H2AX foci in G2 phase cells was, moreover, decreased by RI-1, the chemical inhibitor of HR, demonstrating that homologous recombination is at work early after irradiation. The relevance of HR in DSB repair was assessed in DNA-PK-deficient M059J cells and in CCD-34Lu treated with the DNA-PKcs inhibitor, NU7026. In both conditions, the kinetics of ?-H2AX demonstrated that DSBs repair was markedly affected when NHEJ was absent or impaired, even in G2 phase cells in which HR should be at work. The recruitment of RAD51 at DSB sites was, moreover, delayed in M059J and in NU7026 treated-CCD-34Lu, with respect to DNA-PKcs proficient cells and continued for 24 hours despite the decrease in DNA repair. The impairment of NHEJ affected the efficiency of the HR system and significantly decreased cell survival after ionizing radiation, confirming that DSB rejoining is strictly dependent on the integrity of the NHEJ repair system.
Nanosized objects made of various materials are gaining increasing attention as promising vehicles for the delivery of therapeutic and diagnostic agents for cancer. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) appears to offer a very attractive opportunity to implement drug delivery systems since no release of the sensitizer is needed to obtain the therapeutic effect and the design of the nanovehicle should be much easier. The aim of our study was to investigate the use of organic-modified silica nanoparticles (NPs) for the delivery of the second-generation photosensitizer meta-tetra(hydroxyphenyl)chlorin (mTHPC) to cancer cells in vitro. mTHPC was entrapped in NPs (approximately 33 nm diameter) in a monomeric form which produced singlet oxygen with a high efficiency. In aqueous media with high salt concentrations, the NPs underwent aggregation and precipitation but their stability could be preserved in the presence of foetal bovine serum. The cellular uptake, localization and phototoxic activity of mTHPC was determined comparatively in human oesophageal cancer cells after its delivery by the NPs and the standard solvent ethanol/poly(ethylene glycol) 400/water (20:30:50, by vol). The NP formulation reduced the cellular uptake of mTHPC by about 50% in comparison to standard solvent while it did not affect the concentration-dependent photokilling activity of mTHPC and its intracellular localization. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements, using NPs with mTHPC physically entrapped and a cyanine covalently linked, and ultracentrifugation experiments indicated that mTHPC is transferred from NPs to serum proteins when present in the medium. However, the coating of the NP surface with poly(ethylene glycol) largely prevented the transfer to proteins. In conclusion, mTHPC is rapidly transferred from the uncoated nanoparticles to the serum proteins and then internalized by the cells as a protein complex, irrespective of its modality of delivery.
Cell response to ionising radiation depends, besides on genetic and physiological features of the biological systems, on environmental conditions occurring during DNA repair. Many data showed that microgravity, experienced by astronauts during space flights or modeled on Earth, causes apoptosis, cytoskeletal alteration, cell growth inhibition, increased frequency of mutations and chromosome aberrations. In this study, we analysed the progression of the rejoining of double strand breaks (DSBs) in human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) irradiated with gamma-rays and incubated in static condition (1 g) or in modeled microgravity (MMG). gamma-H2AX foci formation and disappearance, monitored during the repair incubation, showed that the kinetics of DSBs rejoining was different in the two gravity conditions. The fraction of foci-positive cells decreased slower in MMG than in 1 g at 6 and 24 h after irradiation (P<0.01) and the mean number of gamma-H2AX foci per nucleus was significantly higher in MMG than in 1g at the same time-points (P<0.001). In the same samples we determined apoptotic level and the rate of DSB rejoining during post-irradiation incubation. A significant induction of apoptosis was observed in MMG at 24 h after irradiation (P<0.001), whereas at shorter times the level of apoptosis was slightly higher in MMG respect to 1 g. In accordance with the kinetics of gamma-H2AX foci, the slower rejoining of radiation-induced DSBs in MMG was observed by DNA fragmentation analyses during the repair incubation; the data of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis assay showed that the fraction of DNA released in the gel was significantly higher in PBL incubated in MMG after irradiation with respect to cells maintained in 1 g. Our results provide evidences that MMG incubation during DNA repair delayed the rate of radiation-induced DSB rejoining, and increased, as a consequence, the genotoxic effects of ionising radiation.
We analyzed the influence of the kind of cytotoxicity test and its application modality in defining the level of hazard of the in vitro exposures to nanostructures. We assessed the cytotoxicity induced by two different Ludox® silica nanoparticles (NPs), AS30 and SM30, on three human cell lines, CCD-34Lu, A549, and HT-1080. Dynamic light scattering measurements showed particle agglomeration when NPs are diluted in culture medium supplemented with fetal calf serum. We examined the impact of such particle aggregation on the cytotoxicity by exposing the cells to NPs under different treatment modalities: short incubation (2 h) in serum-free medium or long incubation (24-72 h) in serum-containing medium. Under this last modality, NP suspensions tended to form aggregates and were toxic at concentrations five- to tenfold higher than in serum-free medium. The results of cell survival varied considerably when the long-term clonogenic assay was performed to validate the data of the short-term MTS assay. Indeed, the half maximum effective concentrations (EC(50)) in all the three cell lines were four- to fivefold lower when calculated from the data of clonogenic assay than of MTS. Moreover, the mechanisms of NP toxicity were cell-type-specific, showing that CCD-34Lu are prone to the induction of plasma membrane damages and HT-1080 are prone to DNA double-strand break and apoptosis induction. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the choice of testing strategy and treatment conditions plays an important role in assessing the in vitro toxicity of NPs.
Ionizing radiation (IR) can be extremely harmful for human cells since an improper DNA-damage response (DDR) to IR can contribute to carcinogenesis initiation. Perturbations in DDR pathway can originate from alteration in the functionality of the microRNA-mediated gene regulation, being microRNAs (miRNAs) small noncoding RNA that act as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. In this study we gained insight into the role of miRNAs in the regulation of DDR to IR under microgravity, a condition of weightlessness experienced by astronauts during space missions, which could have a synergistic action on cells, increasing the risk of radiation exposure.
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