Design and validation of an air-liquid interface (ALI) exposure device based on thermophoresis

In vitro, direct aerosol nanoparticle exposure of cells cultured at the air-liquid interface (ALI) has shown great potential over the conventional submerged cell exposure methods due to exposure relevancy and more accurate dose determination. Here, we present a design of an ALI cell exposure device, the thermocollector, which applies thermophoresis to deposit aerosol particles onto the cells. Computational numerical simulations were used to estimate the deposition flux and how it depended on particle properties. The deposition flux was approximately 250 particles/m2s for particles smaller than 100 nm, corresponding to an aerosol concentration of 1 #/cm3. This was also confirmed with experimental studies. For larger particles, the deposition rate depended more on particle properties; however, for fractal combustion derived soot particles, the deposition rate is practically size independent at the size range studied here. Finally, epithelial cells were exposed with wood combustion aerosol, and the toxicologic responses were investigated. The cell viability decrease and DNA damage were detected after the exposure. These effects were not detected in cells after the exposure to clean air in this cell exposure system.

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