Human intestinal epithelial cells exhibit a cellular response indicating a potential toxicity upon exposure to hematite nanoparticles

Madhavi Kalive, Wen Zhang, Yongsheng Chen, David Capco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


This study examined the effects of differentsized nanoparticles on potential cytotoxicity in intestinal epithelia. Three sizes of hematite nanoparticles were used for the study at a 10 ppm concentration: 17, 53, and, 100 nm. Results indicate that, of the hematite nanoparticles tested, 17 nm was more toxic to the epithelial integrity than 53 or 100 nm. In addition, the epithelial integrity was affected by disruption of epithelial structures such as apical microvilli, and by disruption of the cell-cell junctions leading to reduction in transepithelial electrical resistance measurements (TEER). The drop in TEER was caused by disruption of the adhering junctions not by cell death, as determined by immunocytochemistry, and by using a cell viability assay. Epithelial integrity was also affected at the molecular level as shown by differential expression of genes related to cell junction maintenance, which was assessed by microarray analysis. In conclusion, the 17- and 100-nm hematite nanoparticles caused significant structural changes in the epithelium but not the 53 nm nanoparticles. Also, different-sized hematite nanoparticles each had different effects both at the cellular level and genetic level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-368
Number of pages26
JournalCell Biology and Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012



  • Caco-2 cells
  • Epithelium
  • Microarray analysis
  • Microvilli
  • γ-catenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Cell Biology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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