A hypothetical model for predicting the toxicity of high aspect ratio nanoparticles (HARN)
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- Tran, C.L., Tantra, R., Donaldson, K. et al. J Nanopart Res (2011) 13: 6683. doi:10.1007/s11051-011-0575-9
The ability to predict nanoparticle (dimensional structures which are less than 100 nm in size) toxicity through the use of a suitable model is an important goal if nanoparticles are to be regulated in terms of exposures and toxicological effects. Recently, a model to predict toxicity of nanoparticles with high aspect ratio has been put forward by a consortium of scientists. The High aspect ratio nanoparticles (HARN) model is a platform that relates the physical dimensions of HARN (specifically length and diameter ratio) and biopersistence to their toxicity in biological environments. Potentially, this model is of great public health and economic importance, as it can be used as a tool to not only predict toxicological activity but can be used to classify the toxicity of various fibrous nanoparticles, without the need to carry out time-consuming and expensive toxicology studies. However, this model of toxicity is currently hypothetical in nature and is based solely on drawing similarities in its dimensional geometry with that of asbestos and synthetic vitreous fibres. The aim of this review is two-fold: (a) to present findings from past literature, on the physicochemical property and pathogenicity bioassay testing of HARN (b) to identify some of the challenges and future research steps crucial before the HARN model can be accepted as a predictive model. By presenting what has been done, we are able to identify scientific challenges and research directions that are needed for the HARN model to gain public acceptance. Our recommendations for future research includes the need to: (a) accurately link physicochemical data with corresponding pathogenicity assay data, through the use of suitable reference standards and standardised protocols, (b) develop better tools/techniques for physicochemical characterisation, (c) to develop better ways of monitoring HARN in the workplace, (d) to reliably measure dose exposure levels, in order to support future epidemiological studies.