New perspectives for in vitro risk assessment of multiwalled carbon nanotubes: application of coculture and bioinformatics

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Nanotechnology is a rapidly expanding field with wide application for industrial and medical use; therefore, understanding the toxicity of engineered nanomaterials is critical for their commercialization. While short term in vivo studies have been performed to understand the toxicity profile of various nanomaterials, there is a current effort to shift toxicological testing from in vivo observational models to predictive and high-throughput in vitro models. However, conventional monoculture results of nanoparticle exposure are often disparate and not predictive of in vivo toxic effects. A coculture system of multiple cell types allows for cross-talk between cells and better mimics the in vivo environment. This review proposes that advanced coculture models, combined with integrated analysis of genome-wide in vivo and in vitro toxicogenomic data, will lead to the development of predictive multi-gene expression-based models to better determine toxicity profiles of and the potential human health risk of exposure to nanomaterials.