Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 2018 June 27 [Link]

Kane AB, Hurt RH, Gao H


Nanotechnology is an emerging industry based on commercialization of materials with one or more dimensions of 100 nm or less. Engineered nanomaterials are currently incorporated into thin films, porous materials, liquid suspensions, or filler/matrix nanocomposites with future applications predicted in energy and catalysis, microelectronics, environmental sensing and remediation, and nanomedicine. Carbon nanotubes are one-dimensional fibrous nanomaterials that physically resemble asbestos fibers. Toxicologic studies in rodents demonstrated that some types of carbon nanotubes can induce mesothelioma, and the World Health Organization evaluated long, rigid multiwall carbon nanotubes as possibly carcinogenic for humans in 2014. This review summarizes key physicochemical similarities and differences between asbestos fibers and carbon nanotubes. The “fiber pathogenicity paradigm” has been extended to include carbon nanotubes as well as other high-aspect-ratio fibrous nanomaterials including metallic nanowires. This paradigm identifies width, length, and biopersistence of high-aspect-ratio fibrous nanomaterials as critical determinants of lung disease, including mesothelioma, following inhalation. Based on recent theoretical modeling studies, a fourth factor, mechanical bending stiffness, will be considered as predictive of potential carcinogenicity. Novel three-dimensional lung tissue platforms provide an opportunity for in vitro screening of a wide range of high aspect ratio fibrous nanomaterials for potential lung toxicity prior to commercialization.