The biological effects of indium-tin-oxide (ITO) are of considerable importance because workers exposed to indium compounds have been diagnosed with interstitial lung disease or pulmonary alveolar proteinosis; however, the pathophysiology of these diseases is undefined. Here, mice intraperitoneally inoculated with ITO-nanoparticles (ITO-NPs) resulted in peritonitis dependent in NLRP3 inflammasome, with neutrophils recruitment and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) production. Withal peritoneal macrophages exposed ex vivo to ITO-NPs caused IL-1β secretion and cytolysis. Further, alveolar macrophages exposed to ITO-NPs in vitro showed ITO-NP endocytosis and production of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and IL-1β, ensued cell death by cytolysis. This cell death was RIPK1-independent but caspase1-dependent, and thus identified as pyroptosis. Endocytosis of ITO-NPs by activated THP-1 cells induced pyroptosis with IL-1β/TNF-α production and cytolysis, but not in activated THP-1 cells with knockdown of NLRP3, ASC, or caspase1. However, exposing activated THP-1 cells with NLRP3 or ASC knockdown to ITO-NPs resulted in cell death but without cytolysis, with deficiency in IL-1β/TNF-α, and revealing features of apoptosis. While, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) co-cultured with macrophages impaired both inflammation and cell death induced by ITO-NPs. Together, our findings provide crucial insights to the pathophysiology of respiratory diseases caused by ITO particles, and identify MSCs as a potent therapeutic.
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