Effects of multi-walled carbon nanotubes on a murine allergic airway inflammation model

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009 Jun 15;237(3):306-16. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.04.003. Epub 2009 Apr 14.


The development of nanotechnology has increased the risk of exposure to types of particles other than combustion-derived particles in the environment, namely, industrial nanomaterials. On the other hand, patients with bronchial asthma are sensitive to inhaled substances including particulate matters. This study examined the effects of pulmonary exposure to a type of nano-sized carbon nanotube (multi-walled nanotubes: MWCNT) on allergic airway inflammation in vivo and their cellular mechanisms in vitro. In vivo, ICR mice were divided into 4 experimental groups. Vehicle, MWCNT (50 microg/animal), ovalbumin (OVA), and OVA+MWCNT were repeatedly administered intratracheally. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cellularity, lung histology, levels of cytokines related to allergic inflammation in lung homogenates/BAL fluids (BALFs), and serum immunoglobulin levels were studied. Also, we evaluated the impact of MWCNT (0.1-1 microg/ml) on the phenotype and function of bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (DC) in vitro. MWCNT aggravated allergen-induced airway inflammation characterized by the infiltration of eosinophils, neutrophils, and mononuclear cells in the lung, and an increase in the number of goblet cells in the bronchial epithelium. MWCNT with allergen amplified lung protein levels of Th cytokines and chemokines compared with allergen alone. MWCNT exhibited adjuvant activity for allergen-specific IgG(1) and IgE. MWCNT significantly increased allergen (OVA)-specific syngeneic T-cell proliferation, particularly at a lower concentration in vitro. Taken together, MWCNT can exacerbate murine allergic airway inflammation, at least partly, via the promotion of a Th-dominant milieu. In addition, the exacerbation may be partly through the inappropriate activation of antigen-presenting cells including DC.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Allergens / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / pathology
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / pathology*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Ovalbumin / administration & dosage
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Particle Size
  • Particulate Matter / immunology
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity


  • Allergens
  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Particulate Matter
  • Ovalbumin