73 Evaluating the Risks of Prolonged Exposure to Graphene Oxide on Healthy and Streptococcus Pneumoniae Infected 3D Reconstituted Human Lung Cultures

Tina Buerki-Thurnherr, Susanne Nigg, Werner Albrich, Christian Kahlert, Neus Lozano Valdes, Cyrill Bussy, Kostas Kostarelos, Peter Wick, Savvina Chortarea

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The growing production of graphene oxide (GO) and GO-based products has led to an increased risk of human exposure and caused scientific and public concern about human health and safety. Even though human exposure to GO can occur via different pathways, the main exposure route for airborn GO is through the lungs, thus placing the respiratory tract at particular risk. Occupational exposure to GO might occur repeatedly over a prolonged period of time but insights on lung toxicity of long-term repeated GO administration is largely lacking. Moreover, there is a risk that GO co-exposure with prevalent lung pathogens (e.g. Streptococcus pneumoniae (SP)) could increase the susceptibility to lung infections. In this study, we aimed to investigate the impact of repeated and prolonged GO exposure in healthy and SP-infected lungs using well-characterized materials with distinct properties and reconstituted primary human bronchial epithelial cultures. Our results revealed that GO had no major toxicity effects on healthy airway epithelium even upon prolonged exposure, but alterations in inflammatory/immune signaling was apparent and showed a correlation with the lateral particle size. GO pre-exposure slightly altered the response of the airway epithelium towards subsequent SP infection as evidenced by a decreased mitochondrial activity, increased bacterial translocation and altered inflammatory/immune responses. Whole genome transcriptomic profiling is ongoing to gain insights in deregulated genes and pathways following chronic GO administration. Our findings on the health risks of GO inhalation in healthy and infected human lung is important to risk assessment and management of this promising material.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnals of Work Exposures and Health
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)2398-7316
ISBN (Print)2398-7308
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2023
EventInhaled Particles and NanOEH Conference 2023 - Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 May 202318 May 2023


ConferenceInhaled Particles and NanOEH Conference 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • graphene
  • toxicity
  • infection
  • lung

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Advanced materials
  • National Graphene Institute
  • Henry Royce Institute


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