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J Biomed Nanotechnol. 2010 Jun;6(3):224-33.

Nuclear translocation of Nrf2 and expression of antioxidant defence genes in THP-1 cells exposed to carbon nanotubes.

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School of Life Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh EH10 5DT, UK.


Carbon nanotubes have a wide range of applications in various industries and their use is likely to rise in the future. Currently, a major concern is that with the increasing use and production of these materials, there may be increased health risks to exposed workers. Long (> 15 microm) straight nanotubes may undergo frustrated phagocytosis which is likely to result in reduced clearance. We examine here the effects of multiwalled carbon nanotubes of different sizes on monocytic THP-1 cells, with regard to their ability to stimulate increased expression of the HO-1 and GST genes and their ability to produce nuclear translocation of the transcription factor, Nrf2, as well as the release of several pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators of inflammation. Our results suggest that long (50 microm) carbon nanotubes (62.5 microg/ml for 4 hours) produce increased nuclear translocation of Nrf2 and increased HO-1 gene expression compared with shorter entangled nanotubes. There was no increased gene expression for GST. The long nanotubes (NT1) caused increased release of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1beta, an effect which was diminished by the antioxidant trolox, suggesting a role of oxidative stress in the upregulation of this cytokine. Tentatively, our study suggests that long carbon nanotubes may exert their effect in THP-1 cells in part via an oxidative stress mechanism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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