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      Carbon nanotubes introduced into the abdominal cavity of mice show asbestos-like pathogenicity in a pilot study

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          Abstract

          Carbon nanotubes have distinctive characteristics, but their needle-like fibre shape has been compared to asbestos, raising concerns that widespread use of carbon nanotubes may lead to mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. Here we show that exposing the mesothelial lining of the body cavity of mice, as a surrogate for the mesothelial lining of the chest cavity, to long multiwalled carbon nanotubes results in asbestos-like, length-dependent, pathogenic behaviour. This includes inflammation and the formation of lesions known as granulomas. This is of considerable importance, because research and business communities continue to invest heavily in carbon nanotubes for a wide range of products under the assumption that they are no more hazardous than graphite. Our results suggest the need for further research and great caution before introducing such products into the market if long-term harm is to be avoided.

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          Most cited references13

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          Comparative pulmonary toxicity assessment of single-wall carbon nanotubes in rats.

          The aim of this study was to evaluate the acute lung toxicity of intratracheally instilled single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) in rats. The lungs of rats were instilled either with 1 or 5 mg/kg of the following control or particle types: (1) SWCNT, (2) quartz particles (positive control), (3) carbonyl iron particles (negative control), (4) phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) + 1% Tween 80, or (5) graphite particles (lung tissue studies only). Following exposures, the lungs of PBS and particle-exposed rats were assessed using bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid biomarkers and cell proliferation methods, and by histopathological evaluation of lung tissue at 24 h, 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months postinstillation. Exposures to high-dose (5 mg/kg) SWCNT produced mortality in ~15% of the SWCNT-instilled rats within 24 h postinstillation. This mortality resulted from mechanical blockage of the upper airways by the instillate and was not due to inherent pulmonary toxicity of the instilled SWCNT particulate. Exposures to quartz particles produced significant increases versus controls in pulmonary inflammation, cytotoxicity, and lung cell parenchymal cell proliferation indices. Exposures to SWCNT produced transient inflammatory and cell injury effects. Results from the lung histopathology component of the study indicated that pulmonary exposures to quartz particles (5 mg/kg) produced dose-dependent inflammatory responses, concomitant with foamy alveolar macrophage accumulation and lung tissue thickening at the sites of normal particle deposition. Pulmonary exposures to carbonyl iron or graphite particles produced no significant adverse effects. Pulmonary exposures to SWCNT in rats produced a non-dose-dependent series of multifocal granulomas, which were evidence of a foreign tissue body reaction and were nonuniform in distribution and not progressive beyond 1 month postexposure (pe). The observation of SWCNT-induced multifocal granulomas is inconsistent with the following: (1) lack of lung toxicity by assessing lavage parameters, (2) lack of lung toxicity by measuring cell proliferation parameters, (3) an apparent lack of a dose response relationship, (4) nonuniform distribution of lesions, (5) the paradigm of dust-related lung toxicity effects, (6) possible regression of effects over time. In addition, the results of two recent exposure assessment studies indicate very low aerosol SWCNT exposures at the workplace. Thus, the physiological relevance of these findings should ultimately be determined by conducting an inhalation toxicity study.
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            Safe handling of nanotechnology.

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              Unusual inflammatory and fibrogenic pulmonary responses to single-walled carbon nanotubes in mice.

              Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) are new materials of emerging technological importance. As SWCNT are introduced into the life cycle of commercial products, their effects on human health and environment should be addressed. We demonstrated that pharyngeal aspiration of SWCNT elicited unusual pulmonary effects in C57BL/6 mice that combined a robust but acute inflammation with early onset yet progressive fibrosis and granulomas. A dose-dependent increase in the protein, LDH, and gamma-glutamyl transferase activities in bronchoalveolar lavage were found along with accumulation of 4-hydroxynonenal (oxidative biomarker) and depletion of glutathione in lungs. An early neutrophils accumulation (day 1), followed by lymphocyte (day 3) and macrophage (day 7) influx, was accompanied by early elevation of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-1beta; day 1) followed by fibrogenic transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 (peaked on day 7). A rapid progressive fibrosis found in mice exhibited two distinct morphologies: 1) SWCNT-induced granulomas mainly associated with hypertrophied epithelial cells surrounding SWCNT aggregates and 2) diffuse interstitial fibrosis and alveolar wall thickening likely associated with dispersed SWCNT. In vitro exposure of murine RAW 264.7 macrophages to SWCNT triggered TGF-beta1 production similarly to zymosan but generated less TNF-alpha and IL-1beta. SWCNT did not cause superoxide or NO.production, active SWCNT engulfment, or apoptosis in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Functional respiratory deficiencies and decreased bacterial clearance (Listeria monocytogenes) were found in mice treated with SWCNT. Equal doses of ultrafine carbon black particles or fine crystalline silica (SiO2) did not induce granulomas or alveolar wall thickening and caused a significantly weaker pulmonary inflammation and damage.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Nanotechnology
                Nature Nanotech
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1748-3387
                1748-3395
                July 2008
                May 20 2008
                July 2008
                : 3
                : 7
                : 423-428
                Article
                10.1038/nnano.2008.111
                18654567
                04711a5b-5627-49a7-adce-081d32072371
                © 2008

                http://www.springer.com/tdm


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