Multiwalled carbon nanotube-induced gene signatures in the mouse lung: potential predictive value for human lung cancer risk and prognosis

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2012;75(18):1129-53. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2012.699852.


Concerns over the potential for multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) to induce lung carcinogenesis have emerged. This study sought to (1) identify gene expression signatures in the mouse lungs following pharyngeal aspiration of well-dispersed MWCNT and (2) determine if these genes were associated with human lung cancer risk and progression. Genome-wide mRNA expression profiles were analyzed in mouse lungs (n = 160) exposed to 0, 10, 20, 40, or 80 μg of MWCNT by pharyngeal aspiration at 1, 7, 28, and 56 d postexposure. By using pairwise statistical analysis of microarray (SAM) and linear modeling, 24 genes were selected, which have significant changes in at least two time points, have a more than 1.5-fold change at all doses, and are significant in the linear model for the dose or the interaction of time and dose. Additionally, a 38-gene set was identified as related to cancer from 330 genes differentially expressed at d 56 postexposure in functional pathway analysis. Using the expression profiles of the cancer-related gene set in 8 mice at d 56 postexposure to 10 μg of MWCNT, a nearest centroid classification accurately predicts human lung cancer survival with a significant hazard ratio in training set (n = 256) and test set (n = 186). Furthermore, both gene signatures were associated with human lung cancer risk (n = 164) with significant odds ratios. These results may lead to development of a surveillance approach for early detection of lung cancer and prognosis associated with MWCNT in the workplace.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Computational Biology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Middle Aged
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / adverse effects*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Nanotubes, Carbon

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE29042