Sonicated and stirred copper oxide nanoparticles induce similar toxicity and pro-inflammatory response in N-hTERT keratinocytes and SZ95 sebocytes

  • Jean-Pascal Piret
  • Jorge Mejia
  • Stéphane Lucas
  • Christos C. Zouboulis
  • Christelle Saout
  • Olivier Toussaint
Research Paper


The potential toxic and pro-inflammatory effects of rod-shaped copper oxide (CuO) nanoparticles (NPs; 10 ± 3 nm in thickness and 74 ± 17 nm in length) were studied on N-hTERT keratinocytes and SZ95 sebocytes and on reconstructed human epidermis. Non-sonicated and sonicated CuO NPs induced similar cellular toxicity. The toxic effect of CuO NPs (non-sonicated and sonicated) was more pronounced in keratinocytes than in sebocytes. Pro-oxidant effects of CuO NPs were demonstrated by showing increase in the production of reactive oxygen species and decrease of cellular glutathione. In addition, DNA-binding activities suggested that redox-sensitive transcription factors Nrf2 and NF-κB were implicated in the response of keratinocytes to CuO NPs. Transcriptomic analysis showed an increase in the abundance of transcript species coding for pro-inflammatory interleukins (e.g. IL-8 and IL-1α) and chemokines. In reconstituted human epidermis exposed topically to raw CuO NPs, no effect on the integrity, viability and inflammatory response was noticed.


Copper oxide nanoparticles Sonication Sebocytes Keratinocytes Toxicity Inflammatory response 



This work was supported by the DGO6 (Direction Générale Opérationnelle de l’Economie, de l’Emploi et de la Recherche) of the Walloon Region of Belgium (‘Nanotoxico’ Pole of Excellence, 516252). The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement No. 262163 (QualityNano infrastructure). O. Toussaint is a Senior Research Associate of the Belgian FNR/FNRS.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11051_2014_2337_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (82 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 81 kb)
11051_2014_2337_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (27 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 27 kb)
11051_2014_2337_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (26 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Pascal Piret
    • 1
  • Jorge Mejia
    • 2
  • Stéphane Lucas
    • 2
  • Christos C. Zouboulis
    • 3
  • Christelle Saout
    • 1
  • Olivier Toussaint
    • 1
  1. 1.URBC, Namur Nanosafety Center (NNC), NAmur Research Institute for LIfe Sciences (NARILIS)University of NamurNamurBelgium
  2. 2.Research Centre for the Physics of Matter and Radiation (PMR-LARN), NNC-NARILISUniversity of NamurNamurBelgium
  3. 3.Departments of Dermatology, Venereology, Allergology and ImmunologyDessau Medical CenterDessauGermany

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