Copper oxide (CuO) nanoparticles (NPs) are abundant in manufacturing processes, but they are an airway irritant. In vitro pulmonary toxicity of CuO NPs has been modeled using cell lines such as human bronchial epithelial cell line BEAS-2B. In 2D in vitro culture, BEAS-2B undergoes squamous differentiation due to the presence of serum. Differentiation is part of the repair process of lung cells in vivo that helps to preserve the epithelial lining of the respiratory tract. Herein, the effects of serum on the hydrodynamic diameter, cellular viability, cellular differentiation, and cellular uptake of 5 and 35 nm CuO NPs are investigated, and the mean cell area is used as the differentiation marker for BEAS-2B cells. The results demonstrate that the hydrodynamic diameter decreases with the addition of serum to the culture medium. Serum also increases the mean cell area, and only affects dose-dependent cytotoxicity of 35 nm CuO NPs, while simultaneously having no effect on intracellular Cu2+. This study presents evidence that both NP size and the presence of serum in culture media influence the relative viability of BEAS-2B cells following CuO NP exposure and highlights a critical need for carefully designed experiments and accurately reported conditions.

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Published in Advanced NanoBiomed Research, v. 1, issue 4, 2000062.

© 2021 The Authors

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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A.K.S. acknowledges support from the Lyle and Sharon Bighley Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences. B.E.G. acknowledges support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the University of Iowa Graduate College, and the National GEM Consortium. A.S. acknowledges support from the University of Iowa College of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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