Engineered carbon nanotubes are newly emerging manufactured particles with potential applications in electronics, computers, aerospace, and medicine. The low density and small size of these biologically persistent particles makes respiratory exposures to workers likely during the production or use of commercial products. The narrow diameter and great length of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) suggest the potential to interact with critical biological structures. To examine the potential of nanotubes to induce genetic damage in normal lung cells, cultured primary and immortalized human airway epithelial cells were exposed to SWCNT or a positive control, vanadium pentoxide. After 24 hr of exposure to either SWCNT or vanadium pentoxide, fragmented centrosomes, multiple mitotic spindle poles, anaphase bridges, and aneuploid chromosome number were observed. Confocal microscopy demonstrated nanotubes within the nucleus that were in association with cellular and mitotic tubulin as well as the chromatin. Our results are the first to report disruption of the mitotic spindle by SWCNT. The nanotube bundles are similar to the size of microtubules that form the mitotic spindle and may be incorporated into the mitotic spindle apparatus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis