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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Feb 5;105(5):1410-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0707654105. Epub 2008 Jan 29.

Circulation and long-term fate of functionalized, biocompatible single-walled carbon nanotubes in mice probed by Raman spectroscopy.

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Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Carbon nanotubes are promising new materials for molecular delivery in biological systems. The long-term fate of nanotubes intravenously injected into animals in vivo is currently unknown, an issue critical to potential clinical applications of these materials. Here, using the intrinsic Raman spectroscopic signatures of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), we measured the blood circulation of intravenously injected SWNTs and detect SWNTs in various organs and tissues of mice ex vivo over a period of three months. Functionalization of SWNTs by branched polyethylene-glycol (PEG) chains was developed, enabling thus far the longest SWNT blood circulation up to 1 day, relatively low uptake in the reticuloendothelial system (RES), and near-complete clearance from the main organs in approximately 2 months. Raman spectroscopy detected SWNT in the intestine, feces, kidney, and bladder of mice, suggesting excretion and clearance of SWNTs from mice via the biliary and renal pathways. No toxic side effect of SWNTs to mice was observed in necropsy, histology, and blood chemistry measurements. These findings pave the way to future biomedical applications of carbon nanotubes.

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