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Defect density in multiwalled carbon nanotubes influences ovalbumin adsorption and promotes macrophage activation and CD4T-cell proliferation

Authors Bai W, Raghavendra A, Podila R, Brown JM

Received 21 April 2016

Accepted for publication 4 July 2016

Published 2 September 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 4357—4371

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S111029

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas Webster


Wei Bai,1 Achyut Raghavendra,2 Ramakrishna Podila,2,* Jared M Brown1,*

1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, 2Laboratory of Nano-Biophysics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Clemson Nanomaterials Center and COMSET, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this manuscript

Abstract: Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are of great interest for the development of drugs and vaccines due to their unique physicochemical properties. The high surface area to volume ratio and delocalized pi-electron cloud of CNTs promote binding of proteins to the surface forming a protein corona. This unique feature of CNTs has been recognized for potential delivery of antigens for strong and long-lasting antigen-specific immune responses. Based on an earlier study that demonstrated increased protein binding, we propose that carboxylated multiwalled CNTs (MWCNTs) can function as an improved carrier to deliver antigens such as ovalbumin (OVA). To test this hypothesis, we coated carboxylated MWCNTs with OVA and measured uptake and activation of antigen-presenting cells (macrophages) and their ability to stimulate CD4+ T-cell proliferation. We employed two types of carboxylated MWCNTs with different surface areas and defects (MWCNT-2 and MWCNT-30). MWCNT-2 and MWCNT-30 have surface areas of ~215 m2/g and 94 m2/g, respectively. The ratios of D- to G-band areas (ID/IG) were 0.97 and 1.37 for MWCNT-2 and MWCNT-30, respectively, samples showing that MWCNT-30 contained more defects. The increase in defects in MWCNT-30 led to increased binding of OVA as compared to MWCNT-2 (1,066±182 µg/mL vs 582±41 µg/mL, respectively). Both types of MWCNTs, along with MWCNT–OVA complexes, showed no observable toxicity to bone-marrow-derived macrophages up to 5 days. Surprisingly, we found that MWCNT–OVA complex significantly increased the expression of major histocompatibility complex class II on macrophages and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin 6), while MWCNTs without OVA protein corona did not. The coculture of MWCNT–OVA-complex-treated macrophages and OVA-specific CD4+ T-cells isolated from OT-II mice demonstrated robust proliferation of CD4+ T-cells. This study provides strong evidence for a role for defects in carboxylated MWCNTs and their use in the efficient delivery of antigens for the development of next-generation vaccines.

Keywords: MWCNT, protein corona, nanoparticle, defect, carboxylation, antigen presentation, immune response

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