Validation of weak biological effects by round robin experiments : cytotoxicity/biocompatibility of SiO2 and polymer nanoparticles in HepG2 cells

All over the world, different types of nanomaterials with a diversified spectrum of applications are designed and developed, especially in the field of nanomedicine. The great variety of nanoparticles (NPs), in vitro test systems and cell lines led to a vast amount of publications with conflicting data. To identify the decisive principles of these variabilities, we conducted an intercomparison study of collaborating laboratories within the German DFG Priority Program SPP1313, using well-defined experimental parameters and well-characterized NPs. The participants analyzed the in vitro biocompatibility of silica and polymer NPs on human hepatoma HepG2 cells. Nanoparticle mediated effects on cell metabolism, internalization, and inflammation were measured. All laboratories showed that both nanoparticle formulations were internalized and had a low cytotoxicity profile. Interestingly, small variations in nanoparticle preparation, cell handling and the type of culture slide influenced the nanoparticle stability and the outcomes of cell assays. The round robin test demonstrated the importance of the use of clearly defined and characterized NPs and parameters for reproducible results across laboratories. Comparative analyses of in vitro screening methods performed in multiple laboratories are absolutely essential to establish robust standard operation procedure as a prerequisite for sound hazard assessment of nanomaterials.


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