Carbon nanotubes have widespread applications in multiple engineering disciplines. However, little is known about the toxicity or interaction of these particles with cells. Carbon nanotube films were grown using a microwave plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition system. Human epidermal keratinocytes (HEK) were exposed to 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 mg/ml of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) for 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 24 and 48 h. HEK were examined by transmission electron microscopy for the presence of MWCNT. Here we report that chemically unmodified MWCNT were present within cytoplasmic vacuoles of the HEK at all time points. The MWCNT also induced the release of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin 8 from HEKs in a time dependent manner. These data clearly show that MWCNT, not derivatized nor optimized for biological applications, are capable of both localizing within and initiating an irritation response in a target epithelial cell that composes a primary route of occupational exposure for manufactured nanotubes.
- Human epidermal keratinocytes
- Multi-wall carbon nanotubes
- Transmission electron microscopy
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