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Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2010;50:63-88. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.010909.105819.

Close encounters of the small kind: adverse effects of man-made materials interfacing with the nano-cosmos of biological systems.

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  • 1Pathology and Physiology Research Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA. ATS1@CDC.GOV


Engineered nanomaterials have unique physico-chemical properties that make them promising for many technological and biomedical applications, including tissue regeneration, drug and gene delivery, and in vivo monitoring of disease processes. However, with the burgeoning capabilities to manipulate structures at the nano-scale, intentional as well as unintentional human exposures to engineered nanomaterials are set to increase. Nanotoxicology is an emerging discipline focused on understanding the properties of engineered nanomaterials and their interactions with biological systems, and may be viewed as the study of the undesirable interference between man-made nanomaterials and cellular nanostructures or nanomachines. In this review, we discuss recognition of engineered nanomaterials by the immune system, our primary defense system against foreign invasion. Moreover, as oxidative stress is believed to be one of the major deleterious consequences of exposure to nanomaterials, we explore triggering of pro- and antioxidant pathways as well as biomarkers of oxidative stress. Finally, we highlight in vivo studies of the toxicological outcomes of engineered nanomaterials, including carbon nanotubes, with an emphasis on inflammation and genotoxic responses.

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