Long-term exposures to low doses of cobalt nanoparticles induce cell transformation enhanced by oxidative damage

Balasubramanyam Annangi, Jordi Bach, Gerard Vales, Laura Rubio, Ricard Marcos, Alba Hernández

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48 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 Informa UK Ltd. A weak aspect of the in vitro studies devoted to get information on the toxic, genotoxic and carcinogenic properties of nanomaterials is that they are usually conducted under acute-exposure and high-dose conditions. This makes difficult to extrapolate the results to human beings. To overcome this point, we have evaluated the cell transforming ability of cobalt nanoparticles (CoNPs) after long-term exposures (12 weeks) to sub-toxic doses (0.05 and 0.1μg/mL). To get further information on whether CoNPs-induced oxidative DNA damage is relevant for CoNPs carcinogenesis, the cell lines selected for the study were the wild-type mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF Ogg1+/+) and its isogenic Ogg1 knockout partner (MEF Ogg1-/-), unable to properly eliminate the 8-OH-dG lesions from DNA. Our initial short-term exposure experiments demonstrate that low doses of CoNPs are able to induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and that MEF Ogg1-/- cells are more sensitive to CoNPs-induced acute toxicity and oxidative DNA damage. On the other hand, long-term exposures of MEF cells to sub-toxic doses of CoNPs were able to induce cell transformation, as indicated by the observed morphological cell changes, significant increases in the secretion of metalloproteinases (MMPs) and anchorage-independent cell growth ability, all cancer-like phenotypic hallmarks. Interestingly, such changes were significantly dependent on the cell line used, the Ogg1-/- cells being particularly sensitive. Altogether, the data presented here confirms the potential carcinogenic risk of CoNPs and points out the relevance of ROS and Ogg1 genetic background on CoNPs-associated effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-147
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Mechanistic toxicology
  • Nanotoxicology
  • Risk assessment


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