Genotoxicity of multi-walled carbon nanotube reference materials in mammalian cells and animals

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Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were the first nanomaterials to be evaluated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The categorization as possibly carcinogenic agent to humans was only applicable to multi-walled carbon nanotubes called MWCNT-7. Other types of CNTs were not classifiable because of missing data and it was not possible to pinpoint unique CNT characteristics that cause cancer. Importantly, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has established a repository of industrially manufactured nanomaterials that encompasses at least four well-characterized MWCNTs called NM-400 to NM-403 (original JRC code). This review summarizes the genotoxic effects of these JRC materials and MWCNT-7. The review consists of 36 publications with results on cell culture experiments (22 publications), animal models (9 publications) or both (5 publications). As compared to the publications in the IARC monograph on CNTs, the current database represents a significant increase as there is only an overlap of 8 publications. However, the results come mainly from cell cultures and/or measurements of DNA strand breaks by the comet assay and the micronucleus assay (82 out of 97 outcomes). A meta-analysis of cell culture studies on DNA strand breaks showed a genotoxic response by MWCNT-7, less consistent effect by NM-400 and NM-402, and least consistent effect by NM-401 and NM-403. Results from other in vitro tests indicate strongest evidence of genotoxicity for MWCNT-7. There are too few observations from animal models and humans to make general conclusions about genotoxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108393
JournalMutation Research - Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Carbon nanotubes, Comet assay, DNA damage, Micronucleus assay, Mutations

ID: 283734692