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Article

New Insights into the Cell Death Signaling Pathways Triggered by Long-Term Exposure to Silicon-Based Quantum Dots in Human Lung Fibroblasts

1
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Bucharest, 91-95 Spl. Independentei, 050095 Bucharest, Romania
2
Research Institute of the University of Bucharest–ICUB, University of Bucharest, 91-95 Spl. Independentei, 050095 Bucharest, Romania
3
Department of Science and Engineering of Oxide Materials and Nanomaterials, Faculty of Applied Chemistry and Materials Science, University Politehnica of Bucharest, 1-7 Gheorghe Polizu Str., 011061 Bucharest, Romania
4
Institute of Life Sciences, Vasile Goldis Western University of Arad, 86 Rebreanu, 310414 Arad, Romania
5
National Institute for Research & Development in Chemistry and Petrochemistry (INCDCP-ICECHIM), 202 Spl. Independentei, 060021 Bucharest, Romania
6
Materials Characterization Department, National Institute for Research & Development in Electrical Engineering (ICPE-CA), 313 Splaiul Unirii, 030138 Bucharest, Romania
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Vanessa Valdiglesias
Nanomaterials 2021, 11(2), 323; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11020323
Received: 23 December 2020 / Revised: 18 January 2021 / Accepted: 22 January 2021 / Published: 27 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cytotoxicity and Genotoxicity of Nanomaterials)
This report is the first research study that aims to explore the molecular mechanisms involved in the in vitro pulmonary cytotoxicity triggered by long-term exposure to silicon-based quantum dots (QDs). Human lung fibroblasts (MRC-5 cell line) were exposed to 5 µg/mL silicon-based QDs for 5 weeks and the concentration was increased up to 40 µg/mL QDs during the next 4 weeks. Cell viability and population doubling level were calculated based on Trypan blue staining. The expression levels of proteins were established by Western blotting and the telomeres’ length was determined through Southern blotting. Prolonged exposure of lung fibroblasts to QDs reduced the cell viability by 10% compared to untreated cells. The level of p53 and apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) expression increased during the exposure, the peak intensity being registered after the seventh week. The expressions of autophagy-related proteins, Beclin-1 and LC-3, were higher compared to untreated cells. Regarding the protein expression of Nrf-2, a progressive decrease was noticed, suggesting the downregulation of a cytoprotective response to oxidative stress. In contrast, the heat shock proteins’ (HSPs) expression was increased or maintained near the control level during QDs exposure in order to promote cell survival. Furthermore, the telomeres’ length was not reduced during this exposure, indicating that QDs did not induce cellular senescence. In conclusion, our study shows that silicon-based QDs triggered the activation of apoptotic and autophagy pathways and downregulation of survival signaling molecules as an adaptive response to cellular stress which was not associated with telomeres shortening. View Full-Text
Keywords: cell death; redox signaling; apoptosis; autophagy; telomeres; quantum dots; lung fibroblasts cell death; redox signaling; apoptosis; autophagy; telomeres; quantum dots; lung fibroblasts
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MDPI and ACS Style

Stan, M.S.; Badea, S.; Hermenean, A.; Herman, H.; Trica, B.; Sbarcea, B.G.; Dinischiotu, A. New Insights into the Cell Death Signaling Pathways Triggered by Long-Term Exposure to Silicon-Based Quantum Dots in Human Lung Fibroblasts. Nanomaterials 2021, 11, 323. https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11020323

AMA Style

Stan MS, Badea S, Hermenean A, Herman H, Trica B, Sbarcea BG, Dinischiotu A. New Insights into the Cell Death Signaling Pathways Triggered by Long-Term Exposure to Silicon-Based Quantum Dots in Human Lung Fibroblasts. Nanomaterials. 2021; 11(2):323. https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11020323

Chicago/Turabian Style

Stan, Miruna S., Smaranda Badea, Anca Hermenean, Hildegard Herman, Bogdan Trica, Beatrice G. Sbarcea, and Anca Dinischiotu. 2021. "New Insights into the Cell Death Signaling Pathways Triggered by Long-Term Exposure to Silicon-Based Quantum Dots in Human Lung Fibroblasts" Nanomaterials 11, no. 2: 323. https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11020323

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