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J Toxicol Sci. 2018;43(10):587-600. doi: 10.2131/jts.43.587.

Comparative study for carcinogenicity of 7 different multi-wall carbon nanotubes with different physicochemical characteristics by a single intraperitoneal injection in male Fischer 344 rats.

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Department of Pharmaceutical and Environmental Sciences, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health.
Division of Risk Assessment, Biological Safety Research Center, National Institute of Health Sciences.
Department of Nutritional Science and Food Safety, Faculty of Applied Biosciences, Tokyo University of Agriculture.


The present study comparatively examined carcinogenicity of 7 different multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) with different physicochemical characteristics. Physicochemical characteristics of MWCNTs (referred to as M-, N-, WL-, SD1-, WS-, SD2- and T-CNTs in the present study) were determined using scanning electron and light microscopes and a collision type inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. Male Fischer 344 rats (10 weeks old, 15 animals per group) were administered MWCNTs at a single intraperitoneal dose of 1 mg/kg body weight, and sacrificed up to 52 weeks after the commencement. Fibers of M-, N-, WL- and SD1-CNTs were straight and acicular in shape, and contained few agglomerates. They were relatively long (38-59% of fibers were longer than 5 μm) and thick (33% to more than 70% of fibers were thicker than 60 nm). All of these 4 MWCNTs induced mesotheliomas at absolute incidences of 100%. Fibers of WS-, SD2- and T-CNTs were curled and tightly tangled to form frequent agglomerates. They were relatively short and thin (more than 90% of measured fibers were thinner than 50 nm). WS- CNT did not induce mesothelioma, and only one of 15 rat given SD2- or T-CNT developed tumor. Any correlations existed between the metal content and neither the size or form of fibers, nor the carcinogenicity. It is thus indicated that the physicochemical characteristics of MWCNTs are critical for their carcinogenicity. The straight and acicular shape without frequent agglomerates, and the relatively long and thick size, but not the iron content, may be critical factors. The present data can contribute to the risk management, practical use and social acceptance of MWCNTs.


Carcinogenicity; Fiber size and form; Multi-wall carbon nanotubes; Rat

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