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Multi-walled carbon nanotube induced frustrated phagocytosis, cytotoxicity and pro-inflammatory conditions in macrophages are length dependent and greater than that of asbestos

Boyles, Matthew S.P.; Young, Lesley; Brown, David M.; MacCalman, Laura; Cowie, Hilary; Moisala, Anna; Smail, Fiona; Smith, Paula J.W.; Proudfoot, Lorna; Windle, Alan H.; Stone, Vicki


David M. Brown

Laura MacCalman

Hilary Cowie

Anna Moisala

Fiona Smail

Paula J.W. Smith

Alan H. Windle

Vicki Stone


The potential toxicity of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) has been compared to pathogenic fibres such as asbestos. It is important to test this hypothesis to ascertain safe methods for CNT production, handling and disposal. In this study aspects reported to contribute to CNT toxicity were assessed: length, aspect ratio, iron content and crystallinity; with responses compared to industrially produced MWCNTs and toxicologically relevant materials such as asbestos. The impacts of these particles on a range of macrophage models in vitro were assessed due to the key role of macrophages in particle clearance and particle/fibre-induced disease.

Industrially produced and long MWCNTs were cytotoxic to cells, and were potent in inducing pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic immune responses. Short CNTs did not induce any cytotoxicity. Frustrated phagocytosis was most evident in response to long CNTs, as was respiratory burst and reduction in phagocytic ability. Short CNTs, metal content and crystallinity had less or no influence on these endpoints, suggesting that many responses were fibre-length dependent.

This study demonstrates that CNTs are potentially pathogenic, as they were routinely found to induce detrimental responses in macrophages greater than those induced by asbestos at the same mass-based dose.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 13, 2015
Online Publication Date Jun 15, 2015
Publication Date 2015-10
Deposit Date Oct 29, 2015
Print ISSN 0887-2333
Electronic ISSN 1879-3177
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 7
Pages 1513-1528
Keywords Carbon nanotubes; Nanoparticles; Asbestos; Frustrated phagocytosis;
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