A Priority Programme of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


  • Professor Dr. Peter Gehr
    Institut für Anatomie
    Experimentelle Morphologie
    Medizinische Fakultät
    Universität Bern
  • Prof. Dr. Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser
    Chair Bio-Nanomaterials
    Experimentelle Morphologie
    Université de Fribourg
    Marly 1
  • Professor Dr. Gerd Ulrich Nienhaus
    Institut für Angewandte Physik und Center for Functional Nanostructures (CFN)
    Geb. 30.23 (Physikhochhaus)
    Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • Dr. Wolfgang G. Kreyling
    Institut für Inhalationsbiologie
    Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit, GmbH (GSF)
  • ¹ Dr. Manuela Semmler-Behnke
    Institut für Inhalationsbiologie
    Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit, GmbH (GSF)
  • ¹ Dr. Carlheinz Röcker
    Institut für Biophysik
    Fakultät für Naturwissenschaften
    Universität Ulm
  • Professor Dr. Wolfgang Parak
    Fachbereich Physik
    Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • ² Dr. Pilar Rivera Gil
    FB Physik
    Universität Marburg
1 Phase 1: until Decembre 2010
2 Phase 2: since January 2011

Health effects of manufactured nanoparticles (NP): molecular and cellular biology and toxicology

This project aims to investigate the interaction of nanoparticles (NP) with proteins and cells of the respiratory tract. The proposed research is subdivided into three major topics. The first topic is dedicated to the development of a toolbox of inorganic colloidal NP with well defined size, shape, and surface chemistry. This toolbox will enable us to systematically explore protein binding and cellular responses to NP depending on NP properties. In particular, a pH-sensitive dye will be incorporated in the outer shell of the NP to distinguish the location in and outside cells. The second topic concerns the interaction of NP with proteins. Upon entering the lungs, proteins of the surface lining layer are expected to adhere to NP. The NP surface chemistry will strongly affect these adsorption processes, but the subsequent interactions within the cellular environment will likely depend on the biomolecular shell rather than on surface properties of the bare NP. Thus, we aim to identify the adsorbed biomolecules by exposing NP to body fluids. Both equilibrium and kinetic properties of the adsorption process will be characterized quantitatively for the identified proteins. The third topic addresses the interaction of NP with cultured human (epithelial and immune) cells and their responses using advanced microscopy techniques, including standard confocal and 4Pi microscopy, livecell imaging, traditional and energy filtering transmission electron microscopy. Once taken up by cells, NP may move to specific locations causing several biological responses: e.g. generation of reactive oxygen species, upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and DNA double-strand breaks. Employing a sophisticated triple-cell-co-culture that emulates the lung airway barrier, we hope to elucidate the mechanisms of the interaction of NP with cells and health effects based on such interactions.

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