Toxicity of Basic Copper Carbonate (WSDTY) NPs, presumably due to the release of Cu ions, was previously demonstrated in in vitro cellular toxicity tests for various lung-derived cells such as A549 cells, 16-HBE cells, and BEAS-2B cells. Basic Copper Carbonate NPs were found to be more toxic compared with micrometer CuO particles (CuO-MP) and CuCl2, when comparing doses as total mass per mL in the cell culture medium. The toxic effect was explained by a much higher Cu content in the cell (cellular cytoplasm and nucleus) after exposure to the Basic Copper Carbonate NPs compared with CuO MP and CuCl2, followed by intracellular Cu ion release. Both for Ag NPs and CuO NPs, a higher cellular content of metal (Ag and Cu) ions was observed in A549 and BEAS-2B cells compared with exposure to Ag and Cu ions in the form of AgNO3 or CuCl2, respectively.
Our data identified that the immune system may also be severely affected by the Cu ions released from the Cu containing nanomaterials as shown by the severe lymphoid cell depletion in spleen and thymus. This may have consequences for the functionality of the immune system as was recently demonstrated by us for silver nanoparticles. In view of the potentially high migration of nanomaterials to the spleen, the immune system may be a target for nanomaterial toxicity and needs consideration for a more specific toxicity evaluation.
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