Ex vivo impact of functionalized carbon nanotubes on human immune cells

Lucia Gemma Delogu, Enrica Venturelli, Roberto Manetti, Gérard Aimé Pinna, Ciriaco Carru, Roberto Madeddu, Luciano Murgia, Francesco Sgarrella, Hélne Dumortier, Alberto Bianco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Different studies, carried out by us and others, have investigated the impact of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in vitro and in animal models. To date, only a few studies have been performed on human cells ex vivo. There is also a lack of comparison between CNTs with varied functionalization and structural properties and their impact on different cell types. Materials & Methods: The present ex vivo human study focuses on the impact of a series of functionalized multiwalled CNTs on human T and B lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells and monocytes. Results: Smaller diameter nanotubes are internalized more efficiently. Viability assays displayed the absence of cytotoxicity of all multiwalled CNTs used. Activation assay demonstrated a strong effect on monocytes and NK cells. Conclusion: Our results, on human cells ex vivo, confirmed previous studies demonstrating appropriately functionalized CNTs are nontoxic. The effects on cell functionality were significant for the monocytes and NK cells. These findings encourage the possible use of CNTs for biomedical applications either as carriers of therapeutic molecules or as immune modulator systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • activation
  • cytotoxicity
  • functionalized carbon nanotubes
  • human cells
  • immune system
  • PBMCs
  • uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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