Langendorff heart: A model system to study cardiovascular effects of engineered nanoparticles

Andreas Stampfl, Melanie Maier, Roman Radykewicz, Peter Reitmeir, Martin Göttlicher, Reinhard Niessner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) are produced and used in increasing quantities for industrial products, food, and drugs. The fate of ENPs after usage and impact on health is less known. Especially as air pollution, suspended nanoparticles have raised some attention, causing diseases of the lung and cardiovascular system. Human health risks may arise from inhalation of ENPs with associated inflammation, dispersion in the body, and exposure of vulnerable organs (e.g., heart, brain) and tissues with associated toxicity. However, underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. Furthermore future use of ENPs in therapeutic applications is being researched. Therefore knowledge about potential cardiovascular risks due to exposure to ENPs is highly demanded, but there are no established biological testing models yet. Therefore, we established the isolated beating heart (Langendorff heart) as a model system to study cardiovascular effects of ENPs. This model enables observation and analysis of electrophysiological parameters over a minimal time period of 4 h without influence by systemic effects and allows the determination of stimulated release of substances under influence of ENPs. We found a significant dose and material dependent increase in heart rate accompanied by arrhythmia evoked by ENPs made of flame soot (Printex 90), spark discharge generated soot, anatas (TiO2), and silicon dioxide (SiO2). However, flame derived SiO2 (Aerosil) and monodisperse polystyrene lattices exhibited no effects. The increase in heart rate is assigned to catecholamine release from adrenergic nerve endings within the heart. We propose the isolated Langendorff heart and its electrophysiological characterization as a suitable test model for studying cardiovascular ENP toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5345-5353
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number7
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2011


  • ECG
  • Langendorff heart
  • catecholamines
  • engineered nanoparticles
  • nanotoxicity


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