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Int J Toxicol. 2007 Mar-Apr;26(2):103-13.

Biological interactions of functionalized single-wall carbon nanotubes in human epidermal keratinocytes.

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  • 1Center for Chemical Toxicology Research and Pharmacokinetics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27606, USA.


Carbon nanotube-based nanovectors, especially functionalized nanotubes, have shown potential for therapeutic drug delivery. 6-Aminohexanoic acid-derivatized single-wall carbon nanotubes (AHA-SWNTs) are soluble in aqueous stock solutions over a wide range of physiologically relevant conditions; however, their interactions with cells and their biological compatibility has not been explored. Human epidermal keratinocytes (HEKs) were dosed with AHA-SWNTs ranging in concentration from 0.00000005 to 0.05 mg/ml. MTT (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) cell viability decreased significantly (p < .05) from 0.00005 to 0.05 mg/ml after 24 h. The proinflammatory mediators of inflammation cytokines interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, IL-10, and IL-1beta were also assessed. Cytokine analysis did not show a significant increase in IL-6 and IL-8 in the medium containing 0.000005 mg/ml of AHA-SWNTs from 1 to 48 h. IL-6 increased in cells treated with 0.05 mg/ml of AHA-SWNTs from 1 to 48 h, whereas IL-8 showed a significant increase at 24 and 48 h. No significant difference (p < .05) was noted with TNF-alpha, IL-10, and IL-1beta expression at any time point. Transmission electron microscopy of HEKs treated with 0.05 mg/ml AHA-SWNTs for 24 h depicted AHA-SWNTs localized within intracytoplasmic vacuoles in HEKs. Treatment with the surfactant 1% Pluronic F127 caused dispersion of the AHA-SWNT aggregates in the culture medium and less toxicity. These data showed that the lower concentration of 0.000005 mg/ml of AHA-SWNTs maintains cell viability and induces a mild cytotoxicity, but 0.05 mg/ml of AHA-SWNTs demonstrated an irritation response by the increase in IL-8.

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