Journal Article

Bioavailability, Intracellular Mobilization of Nickel, and HIF-1α Activation in Human Lung Epithelial Cells Exposed to Metallic Nickel and Nickel Oxide Nanoparticles

Jodie R. Pietruska, Xinyuan Liu, Ashley Smith, Kevin McNeil, Paula Weston, Anatoly Zhitkovich, Robert Hurt and Agnes B. Kane

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 124, issue 1, pages 138-148
Published in print November 2011 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfr206
Bioavailability, Intracellular Mobilization of Nickel, and HIF-1α Activation in Human Lung Epithelial Cells Exposed to Metallic Nickel and Nickel Oxide Nanoparticles

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Micron-sized particles of poorly soluble nickel compounds, but not metallic nickel, are established human and rodent carcinogens. In contrast, little is known about the toxic effects of a growing number of Ni-containing materials in the nano-sized range. Here, we performed physicochemical characterization of NiO and metallic Ni nanoparticles and examined their metal ion bioavailability and toxicological properties in human lung epithelial cells. Cellular uptake of metallic Ni and NiO nanoparticles, but not metallic Ni microparticles, was associated with the release of Ni(II) ions after 24–48 h as determined by Newport Green fluorescence. Similar to soluble NiCl2, NiO nanoparticles induced stabilization and nuclear translocation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) transcription factor followed by upregulation of its target NRDG1 (Cap43). In contrast to no response to metallic Ni microparticles, nickel nanoparticles caused a rapid and prolonged activation of the HIF-1α pathway that was stronger than that induced by soluble Ni (II). Soluble NiCl2 and NiO nanoparticles were equally toxic to H460 human lung epithelial cells and primary human bronchial epithelial cells; metallic Ni nanoparticles showed lower toxicity and Ni microparticles were nontoxic. Cytotoxicity induced by all forms of Ni occurred concomitant with activation of an apoptotic response, as determined by dose- and time-dependent cleavage of caspases and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. Our results show that metallic Ni nanoparticles, in contrast to micron-sized Ni particles, activate a toxicity pathway characteristic of carcinogenic Ni compounds. Moderate cytotoxicity and sustained activation of the HIF-1α pathway by metallic Ni nanoparticles could promote cell transformation and tumor progression.

Keywords: nickel; nanoparticles; HIF-1α; cytotoxicity; apoptosis; cancer

Journal Article.  5660 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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