Document Type


Publication Date



School of Medicine


Pathology, Anatomy and Laboratory Medicine



Single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), with their unique physicochemical and mechanical properties, have many potential new applications in medicine and industry. There has been great concern subsequent to preliminary investigations of the toxicity, biopersistence, pathogenicity, and ability of SWCNTs to translocate to subpleural areas. These results compel studies of potential interactions of SWCNTs with mesothelial cells.


Exposure to asbestos is the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma in 80–90% of individuals who develop the disease. Because the mesothelial cells are the primary target cells of asbestos-induced molecular changes mediated through an oxidant-linked mechanism, we used normal mesothelial and malignant mesothelial cells to investigate alterations in molecular signaling in response to a commercially manufactured SWCNT.


In the present study, we exposed mesothelial cells to SWCNTs and investigated reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, cell viability, DNA damage, histone H2AX phosphorylation, activation of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP-1), stimulation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERKs), Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs), protein p38, and activation of activator protein-1 (AP-1), nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), and protein serine-threonine kinase (Akt).


Exposure to SWCNTs induced ROS generation, increased cell death, enhanced DNA damage and H2AX phosphorylation, and activated PARP, AP-1, NF-κB, p38, and Akt in a dose-dependent manner. These events recapitulate some of the key molecular events involved in mesothelioma development associated with asbestos exposure.


The cellular and molecular findings reported here do suggest that SWCNTs can cause potentially adverse cellular responses in mesothelial cells through activation of molecular signaling associated with oxidative stress, which is of sufficient significance to warrant in vivo animal exposure studies.

Source Citation

Pacurari, M., Yin, X. J., Zhao, J., Ding, M., Leonard, S. S., Schwegler-Berry, D., Ducatman, B. S., Sbarra, D., Hoover, M. D., Castranova, V., & Vallyathan, V. (2008). Raw Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes Induce Oxidative Stress and Activate MAPKs, AP-1, NF-κB, and Akt in Normal and Malignant Human Mesothelial Cells. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(9), 1211–1217.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.