Predictive Toxicology of cobalt ferrite nanoparticles: Comparative in-vitro study of different cellular models using methods of knowledge discovery from data

Limor Horev-Azaria, Giovanni Baldi, Delila Beno, Daniel Bonacchi, Ute Golla-Schindler, James C. Kirkpatrick, Susanne Kolle, Robert Landsiedel, Oded Maimon, Patrice N. Marche, Jessica Ponti, Roni Romano, François Rossi, Dieter Sommer, Chiara Uboldi, Ronald E. Unger, Christian Villiers, Rafi Korenstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Background: Cobalt-ferrite nanoparticles (Co-Fe NPs) are attractive for nanotechnology-based therapies. Thus, exploring their effect on viability of seven different cell lines representing different organs of the human body is highly important.Methods: The toxicological effects of Co-Fe NPs were studied by in-vitro exposure of A549 and NCIH441 cell-lines (lung), precision-cut lung slices from rat, HepG2 cell-line (liver), MDCK cell-line (kidney), Caco-2 TC7 cell-line (intestine), TK6 (lymphoblasts) and primary mouse dendritic-cells. Toxicity was examined following exposure to Co-Fe NPs in the concentration range of 0.05 -1.2 mM for 24 and 72 h, using Alamar blue, MTT and neutral red assays. Changes in oxidative stress were determined by a dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate based assay. Data analysis and predictive modeling of the obtained data sets were executed by employing methods of Knowledge Discovery from Data with emphasis on a decision tree model (J48).Results: Different dose-response curves of cell viability were obtained for each of the seven cell lines upon exposure to Co-Fe NPs. Increase of oxidative stress was induced by Co-Fe NPs and found to be dependent on the cell type. A high linear correlation (R2=0.97) was found between the toxicity of Co-Fe NPs and the extent of ROS generation following their exposure to Co-Fe NPs. The algorithm we applied to model the observed toxicity belongs to a type of supervised classifier. The decision tree model yielded the following order with decrease of the ranking parameter: NP concentrations (as the most influencing parameter), cell type (possessing the following hierarchy of cell sensitivity towards viability decrease: TK6 > Lung slices > NCIH441 > Caco-2 = MDCK > A549 > HepG2 = Dendritic) and time of exposure, where the highest-ranking parameter (NP concentration) provides the highest information gain with respect to toxicity. The validity of the chosen decision tree model J48 was established by yielding a higher accuracy than that of the well-known " naive bayes" classifier.Conclusions: The observed correlation between the oxidative stress, caused by the presence of the Co-Fe NPs, with the hierarchy of sensitivity of the different cell types towards toxicity, suggests that oxidative stress is one possible mechanism for the toxicity of Co-Fe NPs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalParticle and Fibre Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 29 Jul 2013


  • Cobalt-ferrite nanoparticles
  • Comparative cytotoxicity
  • Data mining
  • Nanotoxicology


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