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Development of reliable cell-based nanotoxicology assays is important for evaluation of potentially hazardous engineered nanomaterials. Challenges to producing a reliable assay protocol include working with nanoparticle dispersions and living cell lines, and the potential for nano-related interference effects. Here we demonstrate the use of a 96-well plate design with several measurement controls and an interlaboratory comparison study involving five laboratories to characterize the robustness of a nanocytotoxicity MTS cell viability assay based on the A549 cell line. The consensus EC50 values were 22.1 mg/L (95% confidence intervals 16.9 mg/L to 27.2 mg/L) and 52.6 mg/L (44.1 mg/L to 62.6 mg/L) for positively charged polystyrene nanoparticles for the serum-free and serum conditions, respectively, and 49.7 μmol/L (47.5 μmol/L to 51.5 μmol/L) and 77.0 μmol/L (54.3 μmol/L to 99.4 μmol/L) for positive chemical control cadmium sulfate for the serum-free and serum conditions, respectively. Results from the measurement controls can be used to evaluate the sources of variability and their relative magnitudes within and between laboratories. This information revealed steps of the protocol that may need to be modified to improve the overall robustness and precision. The results suggest that protocol details such as cell line ID, media exchange, cell handling, and nanoparticle dispersion are critical to ensure protocol robustness and comparability of nanocytotoxicity assay results. The combination of system control measurements and interlaboratory comparison data yielded insights that would not have been available by either approach by itself.
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Articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is appropriately cited (CC-BY). Copyright on any article in ALTEX is retained by the author(s).