Occupational and environmental pulmonary exposure to carbon nanotubes (CNT) is considered to be a health risk with a very low threshold of tolerance as determined by the United States Center for Disease Control. Immortalized airway epithelial cells exposed to CNTs show a diverse range of effects including reduced viability, impaired proliferation, and elevated reactive oxygen species generation. Additionally, CNTs inhibit internalization of targets in multiple macrophage cell lines. Mice and rats exposed to CNTs often develop pulmonary granulomas and fibrosis. Furthermore, CNTs have immunomodulatory properties in these animal models. CNTs themselves are proinflammatory and can exacerbate the allergic response. However, CNTs may also be immunosuppressive, both locally and systemically. Studies that examined the relationship of CNT exposure prior to pulmonary infection have reached different conclusions. In some cases, pre-exposure either had no effect or enhanced clearance of infections while other studies showed CNTs inhibited clearance. Interestingly, most studies exploring this relationship use pathogens which are not considered primary pulmonary pathogens. Moreover, harmony across studies is difficult as different types of CNTs have dissimilar biological effects. We used Pseudomonas aeruginosa as model pathogen to study how helical multi-walled carbon nanotubes (HCNTs) affected internalization and clearance of the pulmonary pathogen. The results showed that, although HCNTs can inhibit internalization through multiple processes, bacterial clearance was not altered, which was attributed to an enhanced inflammatory response caused by pre-exposure to HCNTs. We compare and contrast our findings in relation to other studies to gauge the modulation of pulmonary immune response by CNTs.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- helical carbon nanotubes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology