Document Type


Publication Date



School of Medicine


Pharmaceutical Sciences


Tumor microenvironment has been recognized as a key determinant of tumor formation and metastasis, but how tumor microenvironment is affected by nanomaterials is essentially unknown. Here, we investigated whether carbon nanotubes (CNTs), a widely used nanomaterial with known carcinogenic potential, can affect cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which are a key component of tumor microenvironment that provides necessary support for tumor growth. We show for the first time that single-walled CNT and to a lesser extent multi-walled and its COOH-functionalized form induced CAF-like cells, which are non-tumorigenic in animals, but promote tumor growth of human lung carcinoma and CNT-transformed lung epithelial cells. The mechanism by which CNT-induced CAF-like cells promote tumor growth involved the acquisition of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in cancer population. Gene knockdown experiments showed that an expression of podoplanin on CAF-like cells is essential for their effects, indicating the functional role of CAF-like cells and podoplanin in CNT tumorigenic process. Our findings unveil a novel mechanism of CNT-induced carcinogenesis through the induction of CAFlike cells that support CSCs and drive tumor formation. Our results also suggest the potential utility of podoplanin as a mechanism-based biomarker for rapid screening of carcinogenicity of CNTs and related nanomaterials for their safer design.

Source Citation

Luanpitpong, S., Wang, L., Castranova, V., Dinu, C. Z., Issaragrisil, S., Chen, Y. C., & Rojanasakul, Y. (2016). Induction of cancer-associated fibroblast-like cells by carbon nanotubes dictates its tumorigenicity. Scientific Reports, 6(1).


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