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Intravenously delivered graphene nanosheets and multiwalled carbon nanotubes induce site-specific Th2 inflammatory responses via the IL-33/ST2 axis

Authors Wang X, Podila R, Shannahan JH, Rao AM, Brown JM

Received 19 February 2013

Accepted for publication 22 March 2013

Published 3 May 2013 Volume 2013:8(1) Pages 1733—1748


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Xiaojia Wang,1 Ramakrishna Podila,1 Jonathan H Shannahan,1 Apparao M Rao,2 Jared M Brown,1

1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA; 2Department of Physics and Astronomy, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA

Abstract: Carbon-based nanomaterials (CBN), such as graphene nanosheets (GNS) and multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT), have been proposed for potential nanomedicine applications such as biomedical devices and carriers for drug delivery. However, our current understanding regarding the systemic toxicity of these CBN through intravenous (iv) injection is limited. In this study, we compare the immune response resulting from GNS and MWCNT exposure. We hypothesize that iv administration of GNS and MWCNT would result in divergent systemic inflammatory responses due to physicochemical differences between these two CBN. In the lungs of C57BL/6 mice, GNS actuate a Th2 immune response 1 day following iv administration, which consists of neutrophilic influx and a significant increase in interleukin (IL)-5, IL-13, IL-33, and its soluble receptor (sST2) in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. MWCNT elicited a significant increase in the messenger ribonucleic acid expression of cytokines in the spleen including IL-4 and IL-33, which are associated with an increase in splenic cell differentiation (CD)4+ and CD8+ T-cells in C57BL/6 mice following iv injection. The observed Th2 responses in both the lung and spleen are absent in ST2-/- mice administrated GNS or MWCNT, suggesting a critical role for IL-33. In conclusion, the use of GNS or MWCNT as nanocarriers for drug delivery may result in Th2 immune responses that are mediated through the IL-33/ST2 axis and therefore may promote adverse allergic reactions.

Keywords: IL-33, ST2, graphene nanosheets, multiwalled carbon nanotubes, Th2 immune responses

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