Dose-dependent mesothelioma induction by intraperitoneal administration of multi-wall carbon nanotubes in p53 heterozygous mice

Cancer Sci. 2012 Aug;103(8):1440-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2012.02318.x. Epub 2012 Jun 21.


Among various types of multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) are those containing fibrous particles longer than 5 μm with an aspect ratio of more than three (i.e. dimensions similar to mesotheliomagenic asbestos). A previous study showed that micrometer-sized MWCNT (μm-MWCNT) administered intraperitoneally at a dose of 3000 μg/mouse corresponding to 1 × 10(9) fibers per mouse induced mesotheliomas in p53 heterozygous mice. Here, we report a dose-response study; three groups of p53 heterozygous mice (n = 20) were given a single intraperitoneal injection of 300 μg/mouse of μm-MWCNT (corresponding to 1 × 10(8) fibers), 30 μg/mouse (1 × 10(7)) or 3 μg/mouse (1 × 10(6)), respectively, and observed for up to 1 year. The cumulative incidence of mesotheliomas was 19/20, 17/20 and 5/20, respectively. The severity of peritoneal adhesion and granuloma formation were dose-dependent and minimal in the lowest dose group. However, the time of tumor onset was apparently independent of the dose. All mice in the lowest dose group that survived until the terminal kill had microscopic atypical mesothelial hyperplasia considered as a precursor lesion of mesothelioma. Right beneath was a mononuclear cell accumulation consisting of CD45- or CD3-positive lymphocytes and CD45/CD3-negative F4/80 faintly positive macrophages; some of the macrophages contained singular MWCNT in their cytoplasm. The lesions were devoid of epithelioid cell granuloma and fibrosis. These findings were in favor of the widely proposed mode of action of fiber carcinogenesis, that is, frustrated phagocytosis where the mesotheliomagenic microenvironment on the peritoneal surface is neither qualitatively altered by the density of the fibers per area nor by the formation of granulomas against agglomerates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogens / administration & dosage*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Genes, p53
  • Heterozygote
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / chemically induced*
  • Mesothelioma / epidemiology
  • Mesothelioma / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / adverse effects*
  • Peritoneum / pathology*
  • Survival Analysis


  • Carcinogens
  • Nanotubes, Carbon