Cell Biology and Toxicology

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 101–116 | Cite as

Toxicity of commercially available engineered nanoparticles to Caco-2 and SW480 human intestinal epithelial cells

  • Talia E. Abbott Chalew
  • Kellogg J. Schwab
Original Research


The effects of ingestion of engineered nanoparticles (NPs), especially via drinking water, are unknown. Using NPs spiked into synthetic water and cell culture media, we investigated cell death, oxidative stress, and inflammatory effects of silver (Ag), titanium dioxide (TiO2), and zinc oxide (ZnO) NPs on human intestinal Caco-2 and SW480 cells. ZnO NPs were cytotoxic to both cell lines, while Ag and TiO2 NPs were toxic only at 100 mg/L to Caco-2 and SW480, respectively. ZnO NPs led to significant cell death in synthetic freshwaters with 1 % phosphate-buffered saline in both cell lines, while Ag and TiO2 NPs in buffered water led to cell death in SW480 cells. NP exposures did not yield significant increased reactive oxygen species generation but all NP exposures led to increased IL-8 cytokine generation in both cell lines. These results indicate cell stress and cell death from NP exposures, with a varied response based on NP composition.


Nanoparticles Silver Titanium dioxide Zinc oxide 



The authors want to acknowledge Dr. DeLisa Fairweather for her advice on the cytokine experiments, Dr. Joe Bressler for his advice about Caco-2 cell lines, and Rebecca Pinekenstein for her help in maintaining the cell lines. This research was supported in part by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Training Program in Environmental Health Sciences (grant #: T32ES007141), the Osprey Foundation of Maryland, and the Johns Hopkins University Global Water Program.

Declaration of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.

Supplementary material

10565_2013_9241_MOESM1_ESM.doc (2.1 mb)
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health SciencesJohns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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