American Chemical Society
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Correlating Live Cell Viability with Membrane Permeability Disruption Induced by Trivalent Chromium

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-01-28, 20:04 authored by Fraser P. Filice, Jeffrey D. Henderson, Michelle S. M. Li, Zhifeng Ding
Cr­(III) is often regarded as a trace essential micronutrient that can be found in many dietary supplements due to its participation in blood glucose regulation. However, increased levels of exposure have been linked to adverse health effects in living organisms. Herein, scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) was used to detect variation in membrane permeability of single cells (T24) resulting from exposure to a trivalent Cr-salt, CrCl3. By employing electrochemical mediators, ferrocenemethanol (FcMeOH) and ferrocenecarboxylic acid (FcCOO), initially semipermeable and impermeable, respectively, complementary information was obtained. Three-dimensional COMSOL finite element analysis simulations were successfully used to quantify the permeability coefficients of each mediator by matching experimental and simulated results. Depending on the concentration of Cr­(III) administered, three regions of membrane response were detected. Following exposure to low concentrations (up to 500 μM Cr­(III)), their permeability coefficients were comparable to that of control cells, 80 μm/s for FcMeOH and 0 μm/s for FcCOO. This was confirmed for both mediators. As the incubation concentrations were increased, the ability of FcMeOH to permeate the membrane decreased to a minimum of 17 μm/s at 7500 μM Cr­(III), while FcCOO remained impermeable. At the highest examined concentrations, both mediators were found to demonstrate increased membrane permeability. 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide cell viability studies were also conducted on Cr­(III)-treated T24 cells to correlate the SECM findings with the toxicity effects of the metal. The viability experiments revealed a similar concentration-dependent trend to the SECM cell membrane permeability study.