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Nanotechnology. 2008 Aug 27;19(34):1-10. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/19/34/345102.

Interaction between carbon nanotubes and mammalian cells: characterization by flow cytometry and application.

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Department of Biology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA.


We show herein that CNT-cell complexes are formed in the presence of a magnetic field. The complexes were analyzed by flow cytometry as a quantitative method for monitoring the physical interactions between CNTs and cells. We observed an increase in side scattering signals, where the amplitude was proportional to the amount of CNTs that are associated with cells. Even after the formation of CNT-cell complexes, cell viability was not significantly decreased. The association between CNTs and cells was strong enough to be used for manipulating the complexes and thereby conducting cell separation with magnetic force. In addition, the CNT-cell complexes were also utilized to facilitate electroporation. We observed a time constant from CNT-cell complexes but not from cells alone, indicating a high level of pore formation in cell membranes. Experimentally, we achieved the expression of enhanced green fluorescence protein by using a low electroporation voltage after the formation of CNT-cell complexes. These results suggest that higher transfection efficiency, lower electroporation voltage, and miniaturized setup dimension of electroporation may be accomplished through the CNT strategy outlined herein.

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