A new Nature Nanotechnology paper has been published this week by the NSQI-based researchers of The Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health (BIRCH). The paper, "Nanoparticles can cause DNA damage across the cellular barrier" shows that direct damage of a cellular barrier can generate indirect damage in cells below the barrier and not in contact with the nanoparticles. The work, which started as a collaboration between researchers in the Bristol Implant Research Centre and BIRCH, spread to include Bristol's Chemistry Dept, Biochemistry Dept and Medical School and others in Cardiff, Manchester, Leeds and Imperial College London.
The paper was published online on 5/11/2009 Click here to go to the paper.
The increasing use of nanoparticles in medicine has raised concerns over their ability to gain access to privileged sites in the body. Here, we show that cobalt–chromium nanoparticles (29.5+6.3 nm in diameter) can damage human fibroblast cells across an intact cellular barrier without having to cross the barrier. The damage is mediated by a novel mechanism involving transmission of purine nucleotides (such as ATP) and intercellular signalling within the barrier through connexin gap junctions or hemichannels and pannexin channels. The outcome, which includes DNA damage without significant cell death, is different from that observed in cells subjected to direct exposure to nanoparticles. Our results suggest the importance of indirect effects when evaluating the safety of nanoparticles. The potential damage to tissues located behind cellular barriers needs to be considered when using nanoparticles for targeting diseased states.