• A 3D co-culture of three human cell lines to model the inflamed intestinal mucosa for safety testing of nanomaterials.

      Susewind, Julia; de Souza Carvalho-Wodarz, Cristiane; Repnik, Urska; Collnot, Eva-Maria; Schneider-Daum, Nicole; Griffiths, Gareth Wyn; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmaceutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2016)
      Oral exposure to nanomaterials is a current concern, asking for innovative biological test systems to assess their safety, especially also in conditions of inflammatory disorders. Aim of this study was to develop a 3D intestinal model, consisting of Caco-2 cells and two human immune cell lines, suitable to assess nanomaterial toxicity, in either healthy or diseased conditions. Human macrophages (THP-1) and human dendritic cells (MUTZ-3) were embedded in a collagen scaffold and seeded on the apical side of transwell inserts. Caco-2 cells were seeded on top of this layer, forming a 3D model of the intestinal mucosa. Toxicity of engineered nanoparticles (NM101 TiO2, NM300 Ag, Au) was evaluated in non-inflamed and inflamed co-cultures, and also compared to non-inflamed Caco-2 monocultures. Inflammation was elicited by IL-1β, and interactions with engineered NPs were addressed by different endpoints. The 3D co-culture showed well preserved ultrastructure and significant barrier properties. Ag NPs were found to be more toxic than TiO2 or Au NPs. But once inflamed with IL-1β, the co-cultures released higher amounts of IL-8 compared to Caco-2 monocultures. However, the cytotoxicity of Ag NPs was higher in Caco-2 monocultures than in 3D co-cultures. The naturally higher IL-8 production in the co-cultures was enhanced even further by the Ag NPs. This study shows that it is possible to mimic inflamed conditions in a 3D co-culture model of the intestinal mucosa. The fact that it is based on three easily available human cell lines makes this model valuable to study the safety of nanomaterials in the context of inflammation.
    • In vitro toxicological screening of nanoparticles on primary human endothelial cells and the role of flow in modulating cell response.

      Ucciferri, Nadia; Collnot, Eva-Marie; Gaiser, Birgit K; Tirella, Annalisa; Stone, Vicki; Domenici, Claudio; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Ahluwalia, Arti (2014-09)
      After passage through biological barriers, nanomaterials inevitably end up in contact with the vascular endothelium and can induce cardiovascular damage. In this study the toxicity and sub-lethal effects of six types of nanoparticle, including four of industrial and biomedical importance, on human endothelial cells were investigated using different in vitro assays. The results show that all the particles investigated induce some level of damage to the cells and that silver particles were most toxic, followed by titanium dioxide. Furthermore, endothelial cells were shown to be more susceptible when exposed to silver nanoparticles under flow conditions in a bioreactor. The study underlines that although simple in vitro tests are useful to screen compounds and to identify the type of effect induced on cells, they may not be sufficient to define safe exposure limits. Therefore, once initial toxicity screening has been conducted on nanomaterials, it is necessary to develop more physiologically relevant in vitro models to better understand how nanomaterials can impact on human health.
    • Lymphatic endothelial cells are a replicative niche for Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

      Lerner, Thomas R; de Souza Carvalho-Wodarz, Cristiane; Repnik, Urska; Russell, Matthew R G; Borel, Sophie; Diedrich, Collin R; Rohde, M; Wainwright, Helen; Collinson, Lucy M; Wilkinson, Robert J; et al. (2016-03-01)
      In extrapulmonary tuberculosis, the most common site of infection is within the lymphatic system, and there is growing recognition that lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) are involved in immune function. Here, we identified LECs, which line the lymphatic vessels, as a niche for Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the lymph nodes of patients with tuberculosis. In cultured primary human LECs (hLECs), we determined that M. tuberculosis replicates both in the cytosol and within autophagosomes, but the bacteria failed to replicate when the virulence locus RD1 was deleted. Activation by IFN-γ induced a cell-autonomous response in hLECs via autophagy and NO production that restricted M. tuberculosis growth. Thus, depending on the activation status of LECs, autophagy can both promote and restrict replication. Together, these findings reveal a previously unrecognized role for hLECs and autophagy in tuberculosis pathogenesis and suggest that hLECs are a potential niche for M. tuberculosis that allows establishment of persistent infection in lymph nodes.
    • miRNA92a targets KLF2 and the phosphatase PTEN signaling to promote human T follicular helper precursors in T1D islet autoimmunity.

      Serr, Isabelle; Fürst, Rainer W; Ott, Verena B; Scherm, Martin G; Nikolaev, Alexei; Gökmen, Füsun; Kälin, Stefanie; Zillmer, Stephanie; Bunk, Melanie; Weigmann, Benno; et al. (2016)
      Aberrant immune activation mediated by T effector cell populations is pivotal in the onset of autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes (T1D). T follicular helper (TFH) cells are essential in the induction of high-affinity antibodies, and their precursor memory compartment circulates in the blood. The role of TFH precursors in the onset of islet autoimmunity and signaling pathways regulating their differentiation is incompletely understood. Here, we provide direct evidence that during onset of islet autoimmunity, the insulin-specific target T-cell population is enriched with a C-X-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CXCR5)+CD4+ TFH precursor phenotype. During onset of islet autoimmunity, the frequency of TFH precursors was controlled by high expression of microRNA92a (miRNA92a). miRNA92a-mediated TFH precursor induction was regulated by phosphatase and tension homolog (PTEN) - phosphoinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling involving PTEN and forkhead box protein O1 (Foxo1), supporting autoantibody generation and triggering the onset of islet autoimmunity. Moreover, we identify Krueppel-like factor 2 (KLF2) as a target of miRNA92a in regulating human TFH precursor induction. Importantly, a miRNA92a antagomir completely blocked induction of human TFH precursors in vitro. More importantly, in vivo application of a miRNA92a antagomir to nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice with ongoing islet autoimmunity resulted in a significant reduction of TFH precursors in peripheral blood and pancreatic lymph nodes. Moreover, miRNA92a antagomir application reduced immune infiltration and activation in pancreata of NOD mice as well as humanized NOD Scid IL2 receptor gamma chain knockout (NSG) human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ8 transgenic animals. We therefore propose that miRNA92a and the PTEN-PI3K-KLF2 signaling network could function as targets for innovative precision medicines to reduce T1D islet autoimmunity.
    • Non-animal models of epithelial barriers (skin, intestine and lung) in research, industrial applications and regulatory toxicology.

      Gordon, Sarah; Daneshian, Mardas; Bouwstra, Joke; Caloni, Francesca; Constant, Samuel; Davies, Donna E; Dandekar, Gudrun; Guzman, Carlos A; Fabian, Eric; Haltner, Eleonore; et al. (2015)
      Models of the outer epithelia of the human body - namely the skin, the intestine and the lung - have found valid applications in both research and industrial settings as attractive alternatives to animal testing. A variety of approaches to model these barriers are currently employed in such fields, ranging from the utilization of ex vivo tissue to reconstructed in vitro models, and further to chip-based technologies, synthetic membrane systems and, of increasing current interest, in silico modeling approaches. An international group of experts in the field of epithelial barriers was convened from academia, industry and regulatory bodies to present both the current state of the art of non-animal models of the skin, intestinal and pulmonary barriers in their various fields of application, and to discuss research-based, industry-driven and regulatory-relevant future directions for both the development of new models and the refinement of existing test methods. Issues of model relevance and preference, validation and standardization, acceptance, and the need for simplicity versus complexity were focal themes of the discussions. The outcomes of workshop presentations and discussions, in relation to both current status and future directions in the utilization and development of epithelial barrier models, are presented by the attending experts in the current report.
    • Optical tweezers reveal relationship between microstructure and nanoparticle penetration of pulmonary mucus.

      Kirch, Julian; Schneider, Andreas; Abou, Bérengère; Hopf, Alexander; Schaefer, Ulrich F; Schneider, Marc; Schall, Christian; Wagner, Christian; Lehr, Claus-Michael (2012-11-06)
      In this study, the mobility of nanoparticles in mucus and similar hydrogels as model systems was assessed to elucidate the link between microscopic diffusion behavior and macroscopic penetration of such gels. Differences in particle adhesion to mucus components were strongly dependent on particle coating. Particles coated with 2 kDa PEG exhibited a decreased adhesion to mucus components, whereas chitosan strongly increased the adhesion. Despite such mucoinert properties of PEG, magnetic nanoparticles of both coatings did not penetrate through native respiratory mucus, resisting high magnetic forces (even for several hours). However, model hydrogels were, indeed, penetrated by both particles in dependency of particle coating, obeying the theory of particle mobility in an external force field. Comparison of penetration data with cryogenic scanning EM images of mucus and the applied model systems suggested particularly high rigidity of the mucin scaffold and a broad pore size distribution in mucus as reasons for the observed particle immobilization. Active probing of the rigidity of mucus and model gels with optical tweezers was used in this context to confirm such properties of mucus on the microscale, thus presenting the missing link between micro- and macroscopical observations. Because of high heterogeneity in the size of the voids and pores in mucus, on small scales, particle mobility will depend on adhesive or inert properties. However, particle translocation over distances larger than a few micrometers is restricted by highly rigid structures within the mucus mesh.
    • Process optimization and biocompatibility of cell carriers suitable for automated magnetic manipulation.

      Krejci, I; Piana, C; Howitz, S; Wegener, T; Fiedler, S; Zwanzig, M; Schmitt, D; Daum, N; Meier, K; Lehr, C M; et al. (2012-03)
      There is increasing demand for automated cell reprogramming in the fields of cell biology, biotechnology and the biomedical sciences. Microfluidic-based platforms that provide unattended manipulation of adherent cells promise to be an appropriate basis for cell manipulation. In this study we developed a magnetically driven cell carrier to serve as a vehicle within an in vitro environment. To elucidate the impact of the carrier on cells, biocompatibility was estimated using the human adenocarcinoma cell line Caco-2. Besides evaluation of the quality of the magnetic carriers by field emission scanning electron microscopy, the rate of adherence, proliferation and differentiation of Caco-2 cells grown on the carriers was quantified. Moreover, the morphology of the cells was monitored by immunofluorescent staining. Early generations of the cell carrier suffered from release of cytotoxic nickel from the magnetic cushion. Biocompatibility was achieved by complete encapsulation of the nickel bulk within galvanic gold. The insulation process had to be developed stepwise and was controlled by parallel monitoring of the cell viability. The final carrier generation proved to be a proper support for cell manipulation, allowing proliferation of Caco-2 cells equal to that on glass or polystyrene as a reference for up to 10 days. Functional differentiation was enhanced by more than 30% compared with the reference. A flat, ferromagnetic and fully biocompatible carrier for cell manipulation was developed for application in microfluidic systems. Beyond that, this study offers advice for the development of magnetic cell carriers and the estimation of their biocompatibility.
    • Setup for investigating gold nanoparticle penetration through reconstructed skin and comparison to published human skin data.

      Labouta, Hagar I; Thude, Sibylle; Schneider, Marc; Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland, Saarbrücken, Germany. (2013-06)
      Owing to the limited source of human skin (HS) and the ethical restrictions of using animals in experiments, in vitro skin equivalents are a possible alternative for conducting particle penetration experiments. The conditions for conducting penetration experiments with model particles, 15-nm gold nanoparticles (AuNP), through nonsealed skin equivalents are described for the first time. These conditions include experimental setup, sterility conditions, effective applied dose determination, skin sectioning, and skin integrity check. Penetration at different exposure times (two and 24 h) and after tissue fixation (fixed versus unfixed skin) are examined to establish a benchmark in comparison to HS in an attempt to get similar results to HS experiments presented earlier. Multiphoton microscopy is used to detect gold luminescence in skin sections. λ(ex)=800 nm is used for excitation of AuNP and skin samples, allowing us to determine a relative index for particle penetration. Despite the observed overpredictability of penetration into skin equivalents, they could serve as a first fast screen for testing the behavior of nanoparticles and extrapolate their penetration behavior into HS. Further investigations are required to test a wide range of particles of different physicochemical properties to validate the skin equivalent-human skin particle penetration relationship.
    • Telomerase as an emerging target to fight cancer--opportunities and challenges for nanomedicine.

      Philippi, C; Loretz, B; Schaefer, U F; Lehr, C M; Department of Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany. (2010-09-01)
      Telomerase as an enzyme is responsible for the renewal of the chromosomal ends, the so-called telomeres. By preventing them from shortening with each cell cycle, telomerase is able to inhibit cellular senescence and apoptosis. Telomerase activity, which is detectable in the majority of cancer cells, allows them to maintain their proliferative capacity. The thus obtained immortality of those cells again is a key to their malignancy. Based on these discoveries, it is obvious that telomerase inhibitors would represent an innovative approach to fight cancer, and a variety of such candidate molecules are currently in the pipeline. Telomerase inhibitors largely fall in two classes of compounds: small synthetic molecules and nucleotide-based biologicals. For several candidates, some proof of concept studies have been demonstrated, either on cell cultures or in animal models. But the same studies also revealed that inefficient delivery is largely limiting the translational step into the clinic. The most appealing feature of telomerase inhibitors, which distinguishes them from conventional anticancer drugs, is probably seen in their intrinsic non-toxicity to normal cells. Nevertheless, efficient delivery to the target cells, i.e. to the tumor, is still required. Here, some well-known biopharmaceutical problems such as insufficient solubility, permeability or even metabolic stability are frequently encountered. To address these challenges, there is a clear need for adequate delivery technologies, for example by using nanomedicines, that would allow to overcome their biopharmaceutical shortcomings and to warrant a sufficient bioavailability at the target side. This review first briefly explains the concept of telomerase and telomerase inhibition in cancer therapy. It secondly aims to provide an overview of the different currently known telomerase inhibitors. Finally, the biopharmaceutical limitations of these molecules are discussed as well as the possibilities to overcome those limits by novel drug carrier systems and formulation approaches.