Predicting dissolution and transformation of inhaled nanoparticles in the lung using abiotic flow cells: The case of barium sulfate.Sci Rep 2020; 10(1):458SR
Barium sulfate (BaSO4) was considered to be poorly-soluble and of low toxicity, but BaSO4 NM-220 showed a surprisingly short retention after intratracheal instillation in rat lungs, and incorporation of Ba within the bones. Here we show that static abiotic dissolution cannot rationalize this result, whereas two dynamic abiotic dissolution systems (one flow-through and one flow-by) indicated 50% dissolution after 5 to 6 days at non-saturating conditions regardless of flow orientation, which is close to the in vivo half-time of 9.6 days. Non-equilibrium conditions were thus essential to simulate in vivo biodissolution. Instead of shrinking from 32 nm to 23 nm (to match the mass loss to ions), TEM scans of particles retrieved from flow-cells showed an increase to 40 nm. Such transformation suggested either material transport through interfacial contact or Ostwald ripening at super-saturating conditions and was also observed in vivo inside macrophages by high-resolution TEM following 12 months inhalation exposure. The abiotic flow cells thus adequately predicted the overall pulmonary biopersistence of the particles that was mediated by non-equilibrium dissolution and recrystallization. The present methodology for dissolution and transformation fills a high priority gap in nanomaterial hazard assessment and is proposed for the implementation of grouping and read-across by dissolution rates.