Cerium dioxide (CeO2) nanoparticles decrease arsenite (As(III)) cytotoxicity to 16HBE14o- human bronchial epithelial cells

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23 Scopus citations


The production and application of engineered nanoparticles (NPs) are increasing in demand with the rapid development of nanotechnology. However, there are concerns that some of these novel materials could lead to emerging environmental and health problems. Some NPs are able to facilitate the transport of contaminants into cells/organisms via a “Trojan Horse” effect which enhances the toxicity of the adsorbed materials. In this work, we evaluated the toxicity of arsenite (As(III)) adsorbed onto cerium dioxide (CeO2) NPs to human bronchial epithelial cells (16HBE14o-) using the xCELLigence real time cell analyzing system (RTCA). Application of 0.5 mg/L As(III) resulted in 81.3% reduction of cell index (CI, an RTCA measure of cell toxicity) over 48 h when compared to control cells exposed to medium lacking As(III). However, when the cells were exposed to 0.5 mg/L As(III) in the presence of CeO2 NPs (250 mg/L), the CI was only reduced by 12.9% compared to the control. The CeO2 NPs had a high capacity for As(III) adsorption (20.2 mg/g CeO2) in the bioassay medium, effectively reducing dissolved As(III) in the aqueous solution and resulting in reduced toxicity. Transmission electron microscopy was used to study the transport of CeO2 NPs into 16HBE14o- cells. NP uptake via engulfment was observed and the internalized NPs accumulated in vesicles. The results demonstrate that dissolved As(III) in the aqueous solution was the decisive factor controlling As(III) toxicity of 16HBE14o- cells, and that CeO2 NPs effectively reduced available As(III) through adsorption. These data emphasize the evaluation of mixtures when assaying toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-458
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Adsorption
  • Arsenic
  • Cerium dioxide
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Nanomaterials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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