Toxicity assessment of metal oxide nanomaterials using in vitro screening and murine acute inhalation studies

Sudartip Areecheewakul, Andrea Adamcakova-Dodd, Brittany E. Givens, Benjamin R. Steines, Yifang Wang, David K. Meyerholz, Nathanial J. Parizek, Ralph Altmaier, Ezazul Haque, Patrick T. O'Shaughnessy, Aliasger K. Salem, Peter S. Thorne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Characterizations and in vitro toxicity screening were performed on metal oxide engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) independently comprising ZnO, CuO, CeO2, Fe2O3, WO3, V2O5, TiO2, Al2O3 and MgO. Nanomaterials that exhibited the highest toxicity responses in the in vitro screening assays (ZnO, CuO, and V2O5) and the lesser explored material WO3 were tested for acute pulmonary toxicity in vivo. Female and male mice (C57Bl/6J) were exposed to aerosolized metal oxide ENMs in a nose-only exposure system and toxicity outcomes (biomarkers of cytotoxicity, immunotoxicity, inflammation, and lung histopathology) at 4 and 24 h after the start of exposure were assessed. The studies were performed as part of the NIEHS Nanomaterials Health Implications Research consortium with the purpose of investigating the effects of ENMs on various biological systems. ENMs were supplied by the Engineered Nanomaterials Resource and Coordination Core. Among the ENMs studied, the highest toxicity was observed for CuO and ZnO NPs in both in vitro and in vivo acute models. Compared to sham-exposed controls, there was a significant increase in bronchoalveolar lavage neutrophils and proinflammatory cytokines and a loss of macrophage viability at both 4 h and 24 h for ZnO and CuO but not seen for V2O5 or WO3. These effects were observed in both female and male mice. The cell viability performed after in vitro exposure to ENMs and assessment of lung inflammation after acute inhalation exposure in vivo were shown to be sensitive endpoints to predict ENM acute toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100214
StatePublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • In vitro toxicity
  • Inhalation toxicity
  • Metal oxides
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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