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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

2-D Materials, 4, 25065 (2017)


The recent surge in graphene research, since its liquid phase monolayer isolation and characterization in 2004, has led to advancements which are accelerating the exploration of alternative 2D materials such as molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), whose unique physico-chemical properties can be exploited in applications ranging from cutting edge electronic devices to nanomedicine. However, to assess any potential impact on human health and the environment, the need to understand the bio-interaction of MoS2 at a cellular and sub-cellular level is critical. Notably, it is important to assess such potential impacts of materials which are produced by large scale production techniques, rather than research grade materials. The aim of this study was to explore cytotoxicity, cellular uptake and inflammatory responses in established cell-lines that mimic different potential exposure routes (inhalation, A549; ingestion, AGS; monocyte, THP-1) following incubation with MoS2 flakes of varying sizes (50 nm, 117 nm and 177 nm), produced by liquid phase exfoliation. Using high content screening (HCS) and live/dead assays, it was established that 1 μg/ml (for the three different MoS2 sizes) did not induce toxic effects on any of the cell-lines. Confocal microscopy images revealed a normal cellular morphology in all cases. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) confirmed the uptake of all MoS2 nanomaterials in all the cell-lines, the MoS2 ultimately locating in single membrane vesicles. At such sub-lethal doses, inflammatory responses are observed, however, associated, at least partially, with the presence of lipopolysaccharide endotoxin in nanomaterial suspensions and surfactant samples. Therefore, the inflammatory response of the cells to the MoS2 or endotoxin contamination was interrogated using a 10-plex ELISA which illustrates cytokine production. The experiments carried out using wild-type and endotoxin hyporesponsive bone marrow derived dendritic cells confirmed that the inflammatory responses result from a combination of endotoxin contamination, the MoS2 nanomaterials themselves, and the stabilizing surfactant.