The innovation engine for new materials

Gabrielle Kliegle

Gabrielle Kliegle


University of California, Santa Barbara



Site Abroad: 

Leibniz Institute for New Materials, Saarbruecken, Germany


Carmen Schmitz

Faculty Sponsor(s): 

Annette Krageloh

Faculty Sponsor's Department: 

Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology

Project Title: 

Mechanical Strain Mimicking Breathing Influences Nanoparticle-Induced Effects on Lung Epithelial Cells

Project Description: 

The safety of man-made nanoparticles has become a growing field of research as nanoparticles become more prevalent in everyday life. Today, nanoparticles are used in the paper, textile, food and drug industries, so humans are frequently exposed to them. To be able to fully understand their safety, an in vitro model that accurately reflects the natural environment of the cells is necessary. The cells studied in this experiment, alveolar type II lung epithelial cells, are stretched during breathing. To model this behavior, the cells were cultured on flexible membranes and stretched bilaterally by 10-20% at a frequency similar to that of breathing. The cell secretions were collected and ELISA assays were performed to quantify the amount of the cytokine CCL20 produced by the cells. The effects of stretching alone, the addition of amorphous colloidal silica nanoparticles, and stretching and nanoparticles together were compared to control groups with no treatment. We found that CCL20 secretion was increased for the stretched cells, with no significant difference between the groups with and without nanoparticles. While this suggests that the stretching of the cells induces a greater inflammatory response than the addition of nanoparticles, more experiments will need to be performed to confirm this.