In vitro cell exposure module in Karolinska Institutet research

  • 27 april, 2014
  • 16:10

Research into nanoparticles is intensifying worldwide. Inhalation Sciences’ exposure system delivers excellent precision for exposure of 3D cell models cultured in an air-liquid interface (ALI) to toxicologists and environmental researchers. Karolinska Institutet Associate Professor in lung and respiratory research Lena Palmberg explains.

‘“Research into nano particles is intense at the moment and will probably grow,” says Karolinska Institutet Associate Professor Lena Palmberg. “We’re currently working on nanoparticles which come from catalysts. There’s no doubt nanoparticles present both medical and environmental dangers. They are so small they really penetrate deep down into the lungs. And they are everywhere.  Cosmetics, sunscreens, antibacterial sprays, shoe sprays, in the home, in industry. Lots of areas need this research. Industrially, with many workers working in toxic environments and not wearing masks, nanoparticles are potentially highly damaging.”

Precision, time and cost savings

Palmberg and her team use Inhalation Sciences’ in vitro cell exposure module, connected to the PreciseInhale platform, to carry out research into particle and nanoparticles exposure on human lung models. For Palmberg’s team the in vitro system offers a precise alternative to in vivo research that delivers valuable cost and time savings.

Inhalation Sciences’ founder and CSO Dr Per Gerde: “Our in vitro cell exposure technology continues to evolve and develop successfully. As we continue developing it we are confident that it will play an even greater role in cell culturing research in the future.”

Air-liquid interface (ALI)

Uniquely, Inhalation Sciences’ patented in vitro model allows for the exposure of lung cells using respirable size aerosols – via the PreciseInhale system. It is the unique combination of aerosol capability and unique 3D-models with primary bronchial epithelial cells cultured in ALI, which makes the system so precise, and provides such close mimicking of the in vivo situation, says Palmberg:

“Culturing the 3D-models in ALI mimics the uptake of substances into the lung more exactly than conventional cell culturing. This system airlifts the cells to get air exposures.”

The team began combining the air lifting technique with the PreciseInhale system in December 2013. “It is the combination of aerosol capability and the culturing of primary cells in ALI that makes this system, so unique and so precise,” says Palmberg.

Primary cells and 3D cell modeling

The team has successfully cultured primary human bronchial epithelial cells together with lung fibroblasts and built high-quality 3D models.

“You culture cells in ALI – the epithelial cells are exposed to air, so it mimics respiratory functions, and underneath you have the fibroblasts that are in the liquid solution. The epithelial cells develop into ciliated and mucus producing cells and mimic a normal mucosa. By stimulating the models with an inflammatory mediator, the number of mucus-producing cells increases and a more chronic bronchitis-like mucosa develops,” says Palmberg. ”The system’s unique features save valuable time and money in research, Palmberg says, and offer precision and control in research: “With the in vitro model you save a lot of animals, get great precision and you can run this from aerosol exposures. The benefits are important.”