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School of Medicine




Identifying the toxicity of nanoparticles (NPs) is an important area of research as the number of nanomaterial-based consumer and industrial products continually rises. In addition, the potential inflammatory effects resulting from pulmonary NP exposure are emerging as an important aspect of nanotoxicity. In this study, the toxicity and inflammatory state resulting from tungsten carbide–cobalt (WC–Co) NP exposure in macrophages and a coculture (CC) of lung epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) and macrophages (THP-1) at a 3:1 ratio were examined. It was found that the toxicity of nano-WC–Co was cell dependent; significantly less toxicity was observed in THP-1 cells compared to BEAS-2B cells. It was demonstrated that nano-WC–Co caused reduced toxicity in the CC model compared to lung epithelial cell monoculture, which suggested that macrophages may play a protective role against nano-WC–Co-mediated toxicity in CCs. Nano-WC–Co exposure in macrophages resulted in increased levels of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-12 secretion and decreased levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα). In addition, the polarizing effects of nano-WC–Co exposure toward the M1 (pro-inflammatory) and M2 (anti-inflammatory) macrophage phenotypes were investigated. The results of this study indicated that nano-WC–Co exposure stimulated the M1 phenotype, marked by high expression of CD40 M1 macrophage surface markers.

Source Citation

Armstead, A., & Li, B. (2016). In vitro inflammatory effects of hard metal (WC–Co) nanoparticle exposure. International Journal of Nanomedicine, Volume 11, 6195–6206.


© 2016 Armstead and Li. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (



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