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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Dec 12;103(50):18882-6. Epub 2006 Nov 29.

Mammalian pharmacokinetics of carbon nanotubes using intrinsic near-infrared fluorescence.

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Department of Chemistry, Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory, Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005, USA.


Individualized, chemically pristine single-walled carbon nanotubes have been intravenously administered to rabbits and monitored through their characteristic near-infrared fluorescence. Spectra indicated that blood proteins displaced the nanotube coating of synthetic surfactant molecules within seconds. The nanotube concentration in the blood serum decreased exponentially with a half-life of 1.0 +/- 0.1 h. No adverse effects from low-level nanotube exposure could be detected from behavior or pathological examination. At 24 h after i.v. administration, significant concentrations of nanotubes were found only in the liver. These results demonstrate that debundled single-walled carbon nanotubes are high-contrast near-infrared fluorophores that can be sensitively and selectively tracked in mammalian tissues using optical methods. In addition, the absence of acute toxicity and promising circulation persistence suggest the potential of carbon nanotubes in future pharmaceutical applications.

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