In this study, the establishment of a microfluidic-based in vitro model of human bronchial epithelial cells is described. The system aimed for a more realistic in vitro model of the human lung, which was used to evaluate the cellular uptake of nanoparticles. BEAS-2B, an immortalized human lung cell line, was used as a model and the cells were grown on a chip within a microfluidic device and were briefly infused with amorphous silica (SiO2) nanoparticles or polystyrene (PS) nanoparticles. For comparison, tests were also performed using static, multi-well cultures. Cellular uptake of the fluorescently labelled particles was investigated by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Exposure under dynamic culture conditions resulted in higher cellular uptake of the PS nanoparticles when compared to static conditions, while uptake of SiO2 nanoparticles was similar in both settings. These findings suggest that exposure conditions need to be adjusted to mimic the physiological conditions of shear stress, especially when dealing with low-density particles. This is relevant not only for the safety assessment of nano- and microplastics but also in nanomedicine.
Development of microfluidic, serum-free bronchial epithelial cells-on-a-chip to facilitate a more realistic in vitro testing of nanoplastics
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