Evaluating the mechanistic evidence and key data gaps in assessing the potential carcinogenicity of carbon nanotubes and nanofibers in humans

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Eileen D. Kuempel, Marie-Claude Jaurand, Peter Møller, Yasuo Morimoto, Norihiro Kobayashi, Kent E. Pinkerton, Linda M. Sargent, Roel C. H. Vermeulen, Bice Fubini, Agnes B. Kane

In an evaluation of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for the IARC Monograph 111, the Mechanisms Subgroup was tasked with assessing the strength of evidence on the potential carcinogenicity of CNTs in humans. The mechanistic evidence was considered to be not strong enough to alter the evaluations based on the animal data. In this paper, we provide an extended, in-depth examination of the in vivo and in vitro experimental studies according to current hypotheses on the carcinogenicity of inhaled particles and fibers. We cite additional studies of CNTs that were not available at the time of the IARC meeting in October 2014, and extend our evaluation to include carbon nanofibers (CNFs). Finally, we identify key data gaps and suggest research needs to reduce uncertainty. The focus of this review is on the cancer risk to workers exposed to airborne CNT or CNF during the production and use of these materials. The findings of this review, in general, affirm those of the original evaluation on the inadequate or limited evidence of carcinogenicity for most types of CNTs and CNFs at this time, and possible carcinogenicity of one type of CNT (MWCNT-7). The key evidence gaps to be filled by research include: investigation of possible associations between in vitro and early-stage in vivo events that may be predictive of lung cancer or mesothelioma, and systematic analysis of dose–response relationships across materials, including evaluation of the influence of physico-chemical properties and experimental factors on the observation of nonmalignant and malignant endpoints.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Reviews in Toxicology
Volume47
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-58
Number of pages58
ISSN1040-8444
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Cancer mechanisms, carbon nanofibers, carbon nanotubes, cell proliferation, fibrosis, genotoxicity, inflammation, lung cancer, mesothelioma, particle retention, pulmonary, translocation

ID: 174471072