Nanomaterials are extensively used in consumer products and medical applications, but little is known about their environmental and biological toxicities. Moreover, the toxicity analysis requires sophisticated instruments and labor-intensive experiments. Here we report a microfluidic chip incorporated with the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans that rapidly displays the changes in body growth and gene expression specifically responsive to the silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). C. elegans were cultured in microfluidic chambers in the presence or absence of AgNPs and were consequently transferred to wedge-shaped channels, which immobilized the animals, allowing the evaluation of parameters such as length, moving distance, and fluorescence from the reporter gene. The AgNPs reduced the length of C. elegans body, which was easily identified in the channel of chip. In addition, the decrease of body width enabled the worm to advance the longer distance compared to the animal without nanoparticles in a wedge-shaped channel. The transgenic marker DNA, mtl-2::gfp was highly expressed upon the uptake of AgNPs, resulting in green fluorescence emission. The comparative investigation using gold nanoparticles and heavy-metal ions indicated that these parameters are specific to AgNPs. These results demonstrate that C. elegans-on-a-chip has a great potential as a rapid and specific nanoparticle detection or nanotoxicity assessment system.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2013R1A1A2063757) and by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (2015061592).
© The Author(s) 2017.