Carboxylated short single-walled carbon nanotubes but not plain and multi-walled short carbon nanotubes show in vitro genotoxicity

Mrakovcic, M.; Meindl, C.; Leitinger, G.; Roblegg, E.; Fröhlich, E.

Toxicological Sciences An Official Journal of the Society of Toxicology 144(1): 114-127


ISSN/ISBN: 1096-0929
PMID: 25505129
DOI: 10.1093/toxsci/kfu260
Accession: 057354572

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Long carbon nanotubes (CNTs) resemble asbestos fibers due to their high length to diameter ratio and they thus have genotoxic effects. Another parameter that might explain their genotoxic effects is contamination with heavy metal ions. On the other hand, short (1-2 µm) CNTs do not resemble asbestos fibers, and, once purified from contaminations, they might be suitable for medical applications. To identify the role of fiber thickness and surface properties on genotoxicity, well-characterized short pristine and carboxylated single-walled (SCNTs) and multi-walled (MCNTs) CNTs of different diameters were studied for cytotoxicity, the cell's response to oxidative stress (immunoreactivity against hemoxygenase 1 and glutathione levels), and in a hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) assay using V79 chinese hamster fibroblasts and human lung adenocarcinoma A549 cells. DNA repair was demonstrated by measuring immunoreactivity against activated histone H2AX protein. The number of micronuclei as well as the number of multinucleated cells was determined. CNTs acted more cytotoxic in V79 than in A549 cells. Plain and carboxylated thin (<8 nm) SCNTs and MCNTs showed greater cytotoxic potential and carboxylated CNTs showed indication for generating oxidative stress. Multi-walled CNTs did not cause HPRT mutation, micronucleus formation, DNA damage, interference with cell division, and oxidative stress. Carboxylated, but not plain, SCNTs showed indication for in vitro DNA damage according to increase of H2AX-immunoreactive cells and HPRT mutation. Although short CNTs presented a low in vitro genotoxicity, functionalization of short SCNTs can render these particles genotoxic.