To obtain insight in translocation of nanoparticles across the placental barrier, translocation was studied for one positively and two negatively charged polystyrene nanoparticles (PS-NPs) of similar size in an in vitro model. The model consisted of BeWo b30 cells, derived from a human choriocarcinoma grown on a transwell insert forming a cell layer that separates an apical from a basolateral compartment. PS-NPs were characterized with respect to size, surface charge, morphology and protein corona. Translocation of PS-NPs was not related to PS-NP charge. Two PS-NPs were translocated across the BeWo transwell model to a lower extent than amoxicillin, a model compound known to be translocated over the placental barrier to only a limited extent, whereas one PS-NP showed a slightly higher translocation. Studies on the effect of transporter inhibitors on the translocation of the PS-NPs indicated that their translocation was not mediated by known transporters and mainly dependent on passive diffusion. It is concluded that the BeWo b30 model can be used as an efficient method to get an initial qualitative impression about the capacity of NPs to translocate across the placental barrier and set priorities in further in vivo studies on translocation of NPs to the fetus.
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