Airway exposure to multi-walled carbon nanotubes disrupts the female reproductive cycle without affecting pregnancy outcomes in mice

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Background: The use of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) is increasing due to a growing use in a variety of products across several industries. Thus, occupational exposure is also of increasing concern, particularly since airway exposure to MWCNTs can induce sustained pulmonary acute phase response and inflammation in experimental animals, which may affect female reproduction. This proof-of-principle study therefore aimed to investigate if lung exposure by intratracheal instillation of the MWCNT NM-400 would affect the estrous cycle and reproductive function in female mice.

Results: Estrous cycle regularity was investigated by comparing vaginal smears before and after exposure to 67 μg of NM-400, whereas reproductive function was analyzed by measuring time to delivery of litters after instillation of 2, 18 or 67 μg of NM-400. Compared to normal estrous cycling determined prior to exposure, exposure to MWCNT significantly prolonged the estrous cycle during which exposure took place, but significantly shortened the estrous cycle immediately after the exposed cycle. No consistent effects were seen on time to delivery of litter or other gestational or litter parameters, such as litter size, sex ratio, implantations and implantation loss.

Conclusion: Lung exposure to MWCNT interfered with estrous cycling. Effects caused by MWCNTs depended on the time of exposure: the estrous stage was particularly sensitive to exposure, as animals exposed during this stage showed a higher incidence of irregular cycling after exposure. Our data indicates that MWCNT exposure may interfere with events leading to ovulation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalParticle and Fibre Toxicology
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2017

    Research areas

  • Nanomaterials, Multi-walled carbon nanotubes, Female, Estrous cycle, Ovulation, Fertility, Pregnancy, Developmental toxicity, Reproductive toxicity

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