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Dysregulation of macrophage activation profiles by engineered nanoparticles

Kodali, V;Littke, MH;Tilton, SC;Teeguarden, JG;Shi, L;Frevert, CW;Wang, W;Pounds, JG;Thrall, BD;

Although the potential human health impacts from exposure to engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) are uncertain, past epidemiological studies have established correlations between exposure to ambient air pollution particulates and the incidence of pneumonia and lung infections. Using amorphous silica and superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) as model high production volume ENPs, we examined how macrophage activation by bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or the lung pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae is altered by ENP pretreatment. Neither silica nor SPIO treatment elicited direct cytotoxic or pro-inflammatory effects in bone marrow-derived macrophages. However, pretreatment of macrophages with SPIO caused extensive reprogramming of nearly 500 genes regulated in response to LPS challenge, hallmarked by exaggerated activation of oxidative stress response pathways and suppressed activation of both pro- and anti-inflammatory pathways. Silica pretreatment altered regulation of only 67 genes, but there was strong correlation with gene sets affected by SPIO. Macrophages exposed to SPIO displayed a phenotype suggesting an impaired ability to transition from an M1 to M2-like activation state, characterized by suppressed IL-10 induction, enhanced TNF production, and diminished phagocytic activity toward S. pneumoniae. Studies in macrophages deficient in scavenger receptor A (SR-A) showed SR-A participates in cell uptake of both the ENPs and S. pneumonia and co-regulates the anti-inflammatory IL-10 pathway. Thus, mechanisms for dysregulation of innate immunity exist by virtue that common receptor recognition pathways are used by some ENPs and pathogenic bacteria, although the extent of transcriptional reprogramming of macrophage function depends on the physicochemical properties of the ENP after internalization. Our results also illustrate that biological effects of ENPs may be indirectly manifested only after challenging normal cell function. Nanotoxicology screening strategies should therefore consider how exposure to these materials alters susceptibility to other environmental exposures.