Yingde Zhu



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The rapid expansion of nanotechnology and inclusion of nanomaterials (NMs) into everyday objects have introduced benefits in many areas, including energy, electronics, cosmetics, medical procedures, and household items. It is due to their unique physicochemical properties, such as enhanced surface area to volume ratio and increased reactivity that make NMs attractive for these applications. Recently, however, concerns have been raised regarding the safety of NM exposure. To address these concerns, scientists and engineers have sought to identify the root cause of nano-bioresponses, with conflicting reports presented between in vitro and in vivo studies. While in vitro models retain the advantages of quick-screening and low effectiveness, a traditional cell culture environment does not accurately represent an in vivo setting. One mechanism to overcome this discrepancy is to incorporate artificial physiological, which in addition to being more biologically relevant allow for full NM characterization and evaluation in a more representative environment; a critical component in order to identify true NM behavior during targeted applications. As such, our goal was to elucidate the impact of physiological fluids on the characteristics and induced biological responses of select NMs. As inhalation is a primary mode of NM entry, our in vitro model consisted of a human alveolar cell line (A549), artificial alveolar fluid, and NMs that possess increased likelihood of exposure via inhalation (aluminum dioxide, copper oxide, and silicon dioxide). Following dispersion in alveolar fluid the NMs displayed dramatically increased rates of agglomeration and modified surface charge. Additionally, stress activation and cytotoxicity were evaluated and varied between standard culture media and alveolar fluid. These results indicate modified NM and resultant cellular behavior following adaptation of an in vitro environment to more closely mimic an in vivo surroundings.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Capstone Project

Primary Advisor

Kristen K. Comfort

Primary Advisor's Department

Chemical and Materials Engineering


Stander Symposium poster


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Identification of Modified Nanomaterial Characteristics and Cellular Responses in Artificial Alveolar Fluid