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J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2012;75(3):129-47. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2012.625549.

Cell permeability, migration, and reactive oxygen species induced by multiwalled carbon nanotubes in human microvascular endothelial cells.

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  • 1Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506-9300, USA.


Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) have elicited great interest in biomedical applications due to their extraordinary physical, chemical, and optical properties. Intravenous administration of MWCNT-based medical imaging agents and drugs in animal models was utilized. However, the potential harmful health effects of MWCNT administration in humans have not yet been elucidated. Furthermore, to date, there are no apparent reports regarding the precise mechanisms of translocation of MWCNT into target tissues and organs from blood circulation. This study demonstrates that exposure to MWCNT leads to an increase in cell permeability in human microvascular endothelial cells (HMVEC). The results obtained from this study also showed that the MWCNT-induced rise in endothelial permeability is mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and actin filament remodeling. In addition, it was found that MWCNT promoted cell migration in HMVEC. Mechanistically, MWCNT exposure elevated the levels of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) in HMVEC. Taken together, these results provide new insights into the bioreactivity of MWCNT, which may have implications in the biomedical application of MWCNT in vascular targeting, imaging, and drug delivery. The results generated from this study also elucidate the potential adverse effects of MWCNT exposure on humans at the cellular level.

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