Carbon Nanotube and Asbestos Exposures Induce Overlapping but Distinct Profiles of Lung Pathology in Non-Swiss Albino CF-1 Mice

Toxicology Pathology 2016 February 2 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Frank EA, Carreira VS, Birch ME, Yadav JS.


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are emerging as important occupational and environmental toxicants owing to their increasing prevalence and potential to be inhaled as airborne particles. CNTs are a concern because of their similarities to asbestos, which include fibrous morphology, high aspect ratio, and biopersistence. Limitations in research models have made it difficult to experimentally ascertain the risk of CNT exposures to humans and whether these may lead to lung diseases classically associated with asbestos, such as mesothelioma and fibrosis. In this study, we sought to comprehensively compare profiles of lung pathology in mice following repeated exposures to multiwall CNTs or crocidolite asbestos (CA). We show that both exposures resulted in granulomatous inflammation and increased interstitial collagen; CA exposures caused predominantly bronchoalveolar hyperplasia, whereas CNT exposures caused alveolar hyperplasia of type II pneumocytes (T2Ps). T2Ps isolated from CNT-exposed lungs were found to have upregulated proinflammatory genes, including interleukin 1ß (IL-1ß), in contrast to those from CA exposed. Immunostaining in tissue showed that while both toxicants increased IL-1ß protein expression in lung cells, T2P-specific IL-1ß increases were greater following CNT exposure. These results suggest related but distinct mechanisms of action by CNTs versus asbestos which may lead to different outcomes in the 2 exposure types.