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Innate Defence Functions of Macrophages can be Biased by Nano-Sized Ceramic and Metallic Particles

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Nano-sized particles of ceramic and metallic materials are generated by high-tech industrial activities, and can be generated from worn-out replacement and prosthetic implants. The interaction with the human body of such nanoparticles has been investigated, with a particular emphasis on innate defence mechanisms. Human macrophages (PMA-differentiated myelomonocytic U-937 cells) were exposed in vitro to non-toxic concentrations of TiO(2), SiO(2), ZrO(2), or Co nanoparticles, and their inflammatory response (expression of TLR receptors and co-receptors, and cytokine production) was examined. Expression of TLR receptors was generally unaffected by exposure to the different nanoparticles, except for some notable cases. Exposure to nanoparticles of ZrO(2) (and to a lesser extent TiO(2)), upregulated expression of viral TLR receptors TLR3 and TLR7. Expression of TLR10 was also increased by TiO(2) and ZrO(2) nanoparticles. On the other hand, TLR9 expression was decreased by SiO(2) nano-particles, and expression of the co-receptor CD14 was inhibited by Co nanoparticles. Basal and LPS-induced production of cytokines IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, and IL-1Ra was examined in macrophages exposed to nanoparticles. SiO(2) nanoparticles strongly biased naive macrophages towards inflammation (M1 polarisation), by selectively inducing production of inflammatory cytokines IL-1beta and TNF-alpha. SiO(2) nanoparticles also significantly amplified the inflammatory phenotype of LPS-polarised M1 macrophages. Other ceramic nanoparticles had little influence on cytokine production, either in resting macrophages, or in LPS-activated cells. Generally, Co nanoparticles had an overall pro-inflammatory effect on naive macrophages, by reducing anti-inflammatory IL-1Ra and inducing inflammatory TNF-alpha. However, Co nanoparticles reduced production of IL-1beta and IL-1Ra, but not TNF-alpha, in LPS-polarised M1 macrophages. Thus, exposure to different nanoparticles can modulate, in different ways, the defence/inflammatory capacities of macrophages. A thorough analysis of these biasing effects may shed light on the mechanisms of pathogenesis of several diseases based on dysregulation of the immune response (allergies, autoimmunity, tumours).

This article is published in European Cytokine Network and is free to access online.