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In vitro placental model optimization for nanoparticle transport studies

Authors Cartwright, Poulsen, Nielsen, Pojana, Knudsen, Saunders, Rytting E

Received 29 September 2011

Accepted for publication 8 November 2011

Published 31 January 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 497—510


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Laura Cartwright1, Marie Sønnegaard Poulsen2, Hanne Mørck Nielsen3, Giulio Pojana4, Lisbeth E Knudsen2, Margaret Saunders1, Erik Rytting2,5

1Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health (BIRCH), Biophysics Research Unit, St Michael's Hospital, UH Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK; 2University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Public Health, 3University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Pharmaceutics and Analytical Chemistry, Copenhagen, Denmark; 4Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, University Ca' Foscari Venice, Venice, Italy; 5Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA

Background: Advances in biomedical nanotechnology raise hopes in patient populations but may also raise questions regarding biodistribution and biocompatibility, especially during pregnancy. Special consideration must be given to the placenta as a biological barrier because a pregnant woman's exposure to nanoparticles could have significant effects on the fetus developing in the womb. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to optimize an in vitro model for characterizing the transport of nanoparticles across human placental trophoblast cells.
Methods: The growth of BeWo (clone b30) human placental choriocarcinoma cells for nanoparticle transport studies was characterized in terms of optimized Transwell® insert type and pore size, the investigation of barrier properties by transmission electron microscopy, tight junction staining, transepithelial electrical resistance, and fluorescein sodium transport. Following the determination of nontoxic concentrations of fluorescent polystyrene nanoparticles, the cellular uptake and transport of 50 nm and 100 nm diameter particles was measured using the in vitro BeWo cell model.
Results: Particle size measurements, fluorescence readings, and confocal microscopy indicated both cellular uptake of the fluorescent polystyrene nanoparticles and the transcellular transport of these particles from the apical (maternal) to the basolateral (fetal) compartment. Over the course of 24 hours, the apparent permeability across BeWo cells grown on polycarbonate membranes (3.0 µm pore size) was four times higher for the 50 nm particles compared with the 100 nm particles.
Conclusion: The BeWo cell line has been optimized and shown to be a valid in vitro model for studying the transplacental transport of nanoparticles. Fluorescent polystyrene nanoparticle transport was size-dependent, as smaller particles reached the basal (fetal) compartment at a higher rate.

Keywords: nanoparticles, placenta, BeWo cells, transport, model optimization, nanotoxicology

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