Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Why carbon nanotubes spell trouble for cells

Something perpendicular this way comes Cells ingest things by engulfing them. When a long perpendicular fiber comes near, the cell senses only its tip, mistakes it for a sphere, and begins engulfing something too long to handle. Credit: Gao Lab/Brown University
Something perpendicular this way comes Cells ingest things by engulfing them. When a long perpendicular fiber comes near, the cell senses only its tip, mistakes it for a sphere, and begins engulfing something too long to handle.

Credit: Gao Lab/Brown University

Abstract:
Carbon nanotubes and other long nanomaterials can spell trouble for cells. The reason: Cells mistake them for spheres and try to engulf them. Once they start, cells cannot reverse course, and complete ingestion never occurs. Researchers at Brown University detail for the first time how cells interact with carbon nanotubes, gold nanowires and asbestos fibers. Results are published in Nature Nanotechnology.

Cells bite off more than they can chew from Brown PAUR on Vimeo.



Misrecognition
Receptors on the cell's surface crowd around the nanotube, effectively standing it upright. The cell mistakes the tube for a sphere and begins to engulf it.
Credit: Gao Lab/Brown University

Why carbon nanotubes spell trouble for cells

Providence, RI | Posted on September 21st, 2011

It's been long known that asbestos spells trouble for human cells. Scientists have seen cells stabbed with spiky, long asbestos fibers, and the image is gory: Part of the fiber is protruding from the cell, like a quivering arrow that's found its mark.

But scientists had been unable to understand why cells would be interested in asbestos fibers and other materials at the nanoscale that are too long to be fully ingested. Now a group of researchers at Brown University explains what happens. Through molecular simulations and experiments, the team reports in Nature Nanotechnology that certain nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, enter cells tip-first and almost always at a 90-degree angle. The orientation ends up fooling the cell; by taking in the rounded tip first, the cell mistakes the particle for a sphere, rather than a long cylinder. By the time the cell realizes the material is too long to be fully ingested, it's too late.

"It's as if we would eat a lollipop that's longer than us," said Huajian Gao, professor of engineering at Brown and the paper's corresponding author. "It would get stuck."

The research is important because nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes have promise in medicine, such as acting as vehicles to transport drugs to specific cells or to specific locations in the human body. If scientists can fully understand how nanomaterials interact with cells, then they can conceivably design products that help cells rather than harm them.

"If we can fully understand (nanomaterial-cell dynamics), we can make other tubes that can control how cells interact with nanomaterials and not be toxic," Gao said. "We ultimately want to stop the attraction between the nanotip and the cell."

Like asbestos fibers, commercially available carbon nanotubes and gold nanowires have rounded tips that often range from 10 to 100 nanometers in diameter. Size is important here; the diameter fits well within the cell's parameters for what it can handle. Brushing up against the nanotube, special proteins called receptors on the cell spring into action, clustering and bending the membrane wall to wrap the cell around the nanotube tip in a sequence that the authors call "tip recognition." As this occurs, the nanotube is tipped to a 90-degree angle, which reduces the amount of energy needed for the cell to engulf the particle.

Once the engulfing — endocytosis — begins, there is no turning back. Within minutes, the cell senses it can't fully engulf the nanostructure and essentially dials 911. "At this stage, it's too late," Gao said. "It's in trouble and calls for help, triggering an immune response that can cause repeated inflammation."

The team hypothesized the interaction using coarse-grained molecular dynamic simulations and capped multiwalled carbon nanotubes. In experiments involving nanotubes and gold nanowires and mouse liver cells and human mesothelial cells, the nanomaterials entered the cells tip-first and at a 90-degree angle about 90 percent of the time, the researchers report.

"We thought the tube was going to lie on the cell membrane to obtain more binding sites. However, our simulations revealed the tube steadily rotating to a high-entry degree, with its tip being fully wrapped," said Xinghua Shi, first author on the paper who earned his doctorate at Brown and is at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. "It is counter-intuitive and is mainly due to the bending energy release as the membrane is wrapping the tube."

The team would like to study whether nanotubes without rounded tips — or less rigid nanomaterials such as nanoribbons — pose the same dilemma for cells.

"Interestingly, if the rounded tip of a carbon nanotube is cut off (meaning the tube is open and hollow), the tube lies on the cell membrane, instead of entering the cell at a high-degree-angle," Shi said.

Agnes Kane, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Brown, is a corresponding author on the paper. Other authors include Annette von dem Bussche from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown and Robert Hurt from the Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation at Brown.

The National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded the research.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Providence, Rhode Island 02912
USA
Richard Lewis
401-863-3766

Copyright © Brown University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Zenosense, Inc. - Hospital Collaboration - 400 Person Lung Cancer Detection Trial December 17th, 2014

SUNY Poly NanoCollege Faculty Member Selected as American Physical Society Fellow: SUNY Poly Associate Professor of Nanoscience Dr. Vincent LaBella Recognized for Significant Technological Innovations that Enable Interactive Learning December 17th, 2014

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

Nanotubes/Buckyballs

A sponge-like molecular cage for purification of fullerenes December 15th, 2014

'Trojan horse' proteins used to target hard-to-reach cancers: Scientists at Brunel University London have found a way of targeting hard-to-reach cancers and degenerative diseases using nanoparticles, but without causing the damaging side effects the treatment normally brings December 11th, 2014

Detecting gases wirelessly and cheaply: New sensor can transmit information on hazardous chemicals or food spoilage to a smartphone December 8th, 2014

Green meets nano: Scientists at TU Darmstadt create multifunctional nanotubes using nontoxic materials December 3rd, 2014

Discoveries

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Creation of 'Rocker' protein opens way for new smart molecules in medicine, other fields December 18th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Announcements

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

Nutrition, Safety Key To Consumer Acceptance of Nanotech, Genetic Modification In Foods December 2nd, 2014

Sustainable Nanotechnologies Project November 20th, 2014

A gut reaction November 19th, 2014

Nanosafety research – there’s room for improvement October 29th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE