The neurotoxicity of hard metal-based nanoparticles (NPs) remains poorly understood. Here, we deployed the human neuroblastoma cell line SH-SY5Y differentiated or not into dopaminergic- and cholinergic-like neurons to study the impact of tungsten carbide (WC) NPs, WC NPs sintered with cobalt (Co), or Co NPs versus soluble CoCl . Co NPs and Co salt triggered a dose-dependent cytotoxicity with an increase in cytosolic calcium, lipid peroxidation, and depletion of glutathione (GSH). Co NPs and Co salt also suppressed glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) mRNA and protein expression. Co-exposed cells were rescued by N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a precursor of GSH, and partially by liproxstatin-1, an inhibitor of lipid peroxidation. Furthermore, in silico analyses predicted a significant correlation, based on similarities in gene expression profiles, between Co-containing NPs and Parkinson’s disease, and changes in the expression of selected genes were validated by RT-PCR. Finally, experiments using primary human dopaminergic neurons demonstrated cytotoxicity and GSH depletion in response to Co NPs and CoCl with loss of axonal integrity. Overall, these data point to a marked neurotoxic potential of Co-based but not WC NPs and show that neuronal cell death may occur through a ferroptosis-like mechanism.
© 2020 Karolinska Institutet. The FASEB Journal published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.