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Open Access Research

Multi-walled carbon nanotube-induced inflammatory response and oxidative stress in a dynamic cell growth environment

Hemang Patel and Soonjo Kwon*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biological Engineering, Utah State University, 4105 Old Main Hill, 84322-4105, Logan, UT, USA

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Journal of Biological Engineering 2012, 6:22  doi:10.1186/1754-1611-6-22

Published: 13 November 2012



Rapid increase in multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) production for their industrial and biomedical applications has led to concerns over the effects of MWCNTs on human health and the environment. Both animal and in vitro studies have provided important findings about MWCNT-induced effects on the lung cells or tissues. In vitro studies have provided a considerable amount of fundamental information on MWCNT-induced effects on the specific lung cells. However, the cell culture systems used in those studies were limited by the absence of dynamic nature of lung tissues. We hypothesized that MWCNT-induced cellular responses such as proliferation, inflammation, and oxidative stress under dynamic cell growth environment may differ from those under static cell growth environment.


In this study, we used a dynamic cell growth condition to mimic mechanically dynamic environment of the lung and characterized interleukin 8 (IL-8), reactive oxygen species (ROS), glutathione (GSH), and cell proliferation for three days following exposure of MWCNTs at different concentrations (5, 10, and 20 μg/ml) to A549 cell monolayer under both static and dynamic cell growth conditions. Our results demonstrated the distinct differences in the levels of inflammatory response and oxidative stress between static and dynamic cell growth conditions.


In conclusion, the dynamic cell growth system used in this study provided important changes in cellular responses that were not found in the static cell growth system and were similar to animal studies. The dynamic cell growth system can be considered as a viable alternative to in vivo test system in combination with existing in vitro static cell growth systems to evaluate the effect of MWCNTs on cellular responses in the respiratory system.

MWCNTs; Dynamic cell culture; IL-8; ROS; GSH