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Issue 6, 2011
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Cellular uptake mechanisms of functionalised multi-walled carbon nanotubes by 3D electron tomography imaging

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Abstract

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being investigated for a variety of biomedical applications. Despite numerous studies, the pathways by which carbon nanotubes enter cells and their subsequent intracellular trafficking and distribution remain poorly determined. Here, we use 3-D electron tomography techniques that offer optimum enhancement of contrast between carbon nanotubes and the plasma membrane to investigate the mechanisms involved in the cellular uptake of shortened, functionalised multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNT–NH3+). Both human lung epithelial (A549) cells, that are almost incapable of phagocytosis and primary macrophages, capable of extremely efficient phagocytosis, were used. We observed that MWNT–NH3+ were internalised in both phagocytic and non-phagocytic cells by any one of three mechanisms: (a) individually viamembrane wrapping; (b) individually by direct membrane translocation; and (c) in clusters within vesicular compartments. At early time points following intracellular translocation, we noticed accumulation of nanotube material within various intracellular compartments, while a long-term (14-day) study using primary human macrophages revealed that MWNT–NH3+ were able to escape vesicular (phagosome) entrapment by translocating directly into the cytoplasm.

Graphical abstract: Cellular uptake mechanisms of functionalised multi-walled carbon nanotubes by 3D electron tomography imaging

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Publication details

The article was received on 20 Jan 2011, accepted on 23 Mar 2011 and first published on 20 May 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1NR10080G
Citation: Nanoscale, 2011,3, 2627-2635
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    Cellular uptake mechanisms of functionalised multi-walled carbon nanotubes by 3D electron tomography imaging

    K. T. Al-Jamal, H. Nerl, K. H. Müller, H. Ali-Boucetta, S. Li, P. D. Haynes, J. R. Jinschek, M. Prato, A. Bianco, K. Kostarelos and A. E. Porter, Nanoscale, 2011, 3, 2627
    DOI: 10.1039/C1NR10080G

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