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Effect of Nanoparticles on the Bulk Shear Viscosity of a Lung Surfactant Fluid

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posted on 23.12.2019, 13:36 by Le-Phuong-Anh Thai, Fanny Mousseau, Evdokia Oikonomou, Milad Radiom, Jean-François Berret
Inhaled nanoparticles (<100 nm) reaching the deep lung region first interact with the pulmonary surfactant, a thin lipid film lining the alveolar epithelium. To date, most biophysical studies have focused on particle-induced modifications of the film interfacial properties. In comparison, there is less work on the surfactant bulk properties and on their changes upon particle exposure. Here we study the viscoelastic properties of a biomimetic pulmonary surfactant in the presence of various engineered nanoparticles. The microrheology technique used is based on the remote actuation of micron-sized wires via the application of a rotating magnetic field and on time-lapse optical microscopy. It is found that particles strongly interacting with lipid vesicles, such as cationic silica (SiO2, 42 nm) and alumina (Al2O3, 40 nm) induce profound modifications of the surfactant flow properties, even at low concentrations. In particular, we find that silica causes fluidification, while alumina induces a liquid-to-soft solid transition. Both phenomena are described quantitatively and accounted for in the context of colloidal physics models. It is finally suggested that the structure and viscosity changes could impair the fluid reorganization and recirculation occurring during breathing.