Functionalized carbon nanotubes are non-cytotoxic and preserve the functionality of primary immune cells

Nano Lett. 2006 Jul;6(7):1522-8. doi: 10.1021/nl061160x.


Carbon nanotubes are emerging as innovative tools in nanobiotechnology. However, their toxic effects on environment and health have become an issue of strong concern. In the present study, we address the impact of functionalized carbon nanotubes (f-CNTs) on cells of the immune system. We have prepared two types of f-CNTs, following the 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction (f-CNTs 1 and 2) and the oxidation/amidation treatment (f-CNTs 3 and 4), respectively. We have found that both types of f-CNTs are uptaken by B and T lymphocytes as well as macrophages in vitro, without affecting cell viability. Subsequently, the functionality of the different cells was analyzed carefully. We discovered that f-CNT 1, which is highly water soluble, did not influence the functional activity of immunoregulatory cells. f-CNT 3, which instead possesses reduced solubility and forms mainly stable water suspensions, preserved lymphocytes' functionality while provoking secretion of proinflammatory cytokines by macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amides / chemistry
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Biotechnology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*


  • Amides
  • Cytokines
  • Nanotubes, Carbon