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J Immunotoxicol. 2016 Sep;13(5):758-65. doi: 10.1080/1547691X.2016.1191562. Epub 2016 Jul 14.

Uptake of poly-dispersed single-walled carbon nanotubes and decline of functions in mouse NK cells undergoing activation.

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a School of Life Sciences , Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi , India ;
b Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology , South Asian University , New Delhi , India.


The interaction of poly-dispersed acid-functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes (AF-SWCNT) with NK cells undergoing activation was examined. Exposure to AF-SWCNT during NK activation in vitro by interleukin (IL)-2, and in vivo by Poly(I:C) significantly lowered cytotoxic activity generated against YAC-1 tumor cells. Recoveries of spleen NK1.1(+) cells as well as the activated subset of NK cells (NK1.1(+)CD69(+) cells) were significantly reduced by the AF-SWCNT exposure. The proportion of apoptotic NK cells (NK1.1(+) phosphatidylserine(+)) in the spleen cell preparations activated in vitro was also significantly elevated. Expression levels of CD107a [for assessing NK cell degranulation] as well as of FasL marker [mediating non-secretory pathway of NK cell killing] were significantly lower in cells exposed to AF-SWCNT during the activation phase. Intracellular levels of interferon (IFN)-γ and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in the cells were also significantly reduced. Fluorescent AF-SWCNT (FAF-SWCNT) were internalized by the NK cells and uptake was significantly greater in activated cells. Confocal microscopy indicated the internalized FAF-SWCNT were localized to the cytoplasm of the NK cells. These results indicated that AF-SWCNT were internalized by NK cells and caused a general down-regulation of a variety of parameters associated with NK cell cytotoxicity and other cellular functions.


AF-SWCNT; CD107; FasL; IL-2; NK cells; Poly(I:C); apoptosis; confocal microscopy; cytokines; cytotoxicity; degranulation; flow cytometry

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