Authors: Akira Tsuda, Thomas C Donaghey, Nagarjun V Konduru, Georgios Pyrgiotakis, Laura S Van Winkle, Zhenyuan Zhang, Patricia Edwards, Jessica-Miranda Bustamante, Joseph D Brain, Phillip Demokritou
Do immature lungs have air-blood barriers that are more permeable to inhaled nanoparticles than those of fully developed mature lungs? Data supporting this notion and explaining the underlying mechanisms do not exist as far as we know. Using a rat model of postnatal lung development, here the data exactly supporting this notion, that is, significantly more gold nanoparticles (NPs) cross from the air space of the lungs to the rest of the body in neonates than in adults, are presented. Moreover, in neonates the translocation of gold NPs is not size dependent, whereas in adult animals smaller NPs cross the air-blood lung barrier much more efficiently than larger NPs. This difference in air-blood permeability in neonate versus adult animals suggests that NP translocation in the immature lungs may follow different rules than in mature lungs. Supporting this notion, we propose that the paracellular transport route may play a more significant role in NP translocation in immature animals, as suggested by protein expression studies. Findings from this study are critical to design optimal ways of inhalation drug delivery using NP nanocarriers for this age group, as well as for better understanding of the potential adverse health effects of nanoparticle exposures in infants and young children.