Cytotoxic effects in 3T3-L1 mouse and WI-38 human fibroblasts following 72 hour and 7 day exposures to commercial silica nanoparticles

Maciej Stępnik, Joanna Arkusz, Anna Smok-Pieniążek, Anna Bratek-Skicki, Anna Salvati, Iseult Lynch, Kenneth A Dawson, Jolanta Gromadzińska, Wim H De Jong, Konrad Rydzyński

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19 Citations (Scopus)


The potential toxic effects in murine (3T3-L1) and human (WI-38) fibroblast cell lines of commercially available silica nanoparticles (NPs), Ludox CL (nominal size 21 nm) and CL-X (nominal size of 30 nm) were investigated with particular attention to the effect over long exposure times (the tests were run after 72 h exposure up to 7 days). These two formulations differed in physico-chemical properties and showed different stabilities in the cell culture medium used for the experiments. Ludox CL silica NPs were found to be cytotoxic only at the higher concentrations to the WI-38 cells (WST-1 and LDH assays) but not to the 3T3-L1 cells, whereas the Ludox CL-X silica NPs, which were less stable over the 72 h exposure, were cytotoxic to both cell lines in both assays. In the clonogenic assay both silica NPs induced a concentration dependent decrease in the surviving fraction of 3T3-L1 cells, with the Ludox CL-X silica NPs being more cytotoxic. Cell cycle analysis showed a trend indicating alterations in both cell lines at different phases with both silica NPs tested. Buthionine sulfoximine (γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase inhibitor) combined with Ludox CL-X was found to induce a strong decrease in 3T3-L1 cell viability which was not observed for the WI-38 cell line. This study clearly indicates that longer exposure studies may give important insights on the impact of nanomaterials on cells. However, and especially when investigating nanoparticle effects after such long exposure, it is fundamental to include a detailed physico-chemical characterization of the nanoparticles and their dispersions over the time scale of the experiment, in order to be able to interpret eventual impacts on cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-101
Number of pages13
JournalToxicology and applied pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Fibroblasts
  • Glutathione
  • Humans
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Particle Size
  • Silicon Dioxide


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