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Angela Kämpfer
Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine

OpenTox Virtual Conference 2022

Advanced in vitro models of the intestine for nanosafety studies 

With growing knowledge on the importance of the intestine for overall health, increasing effort is invested in the development of advanced intestinal in vitro models to study the effects of ingested engineered nanomaterials (ENM). These models become increasingly complex by the need to mimic the morphological and physiological aspects of the intestine that may impact ENM toxicity. This includes, on the one hand, multicellular models incorporating mucosal barrier and innate immune functions, and on the other hand, approaches that simulate digestive processes and interactions with the gut microbiome. When investigating intestinal ENM-toxicity in vitro, the choice of model and exposure parameters can substantially affect the outcomes. Advanced, differentiated cell cultures are typically more robust towards ENM exposure (Kämpfer et al. 2021), while simulated digestion of particles can change a material’s adverse potential (Llewellyn et al., 2021). New challenges arise with the assessment of micro- and nanoplastics, which may subvert hazard detection in traditional in vitro models (Busch et al., 2021). However, apart from the organotypic and physiological representation of these models, their robustness in terms of in vivo-in vitro comparison as well as concerning their reproducibility will be crucial determinants for their successful implementation in a larger scientific and regulatory context.


Kämpfer et al., Small 2021, DOI 10.1002/smll.202004223

Llewellyn et al., Small 2021; DOI 10.1002/smll.202004630

Busch et al., Chemosphere 2021; DOI 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.131345