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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Surface Reactivities of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes and Their Related Toxicities

  • Author(s): Ren, Lei
  • Advisor(s): Zhong, Wenwan
  • et al.

After 20 years of extensive exploration, people are more and more convinced on the great potentials of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) in the applications of many different areas. On the other hand, the properties and toxicities have also been closely watched for the safe utilization. In this dissertation I focus on the surface properties of SWCNTs and their related toxicities.

In chapter 2, we revealed the generation of peroxyl radical by the unmodified SWCNT and the poly(ethylene glycol) functionalized SWCNT in aqueous solution with capillary electrophoresis (CE) and a reactive oxygen species (ROS) indicator, 2,7-dichlorodihydrofluorescein (H2DCF). According to the results, we identified peroxyl radical, ROO* as the major ROS in our system. Peroxyl radical could be produced from the adsorption of oxygen on the SWCNT surface.

In chapter 3, we studied oxidation of several biologically relevant reducing agents in the presence of SWCNTs in aqueous solutions. H2DCF and several small antioxidants (vitamin C, Trolox, and cysteine), and a high-molecular-weight ROS scavenger (bovine serum albumin (BSA)) were selected as reductants. We revealed that the unmodified or carboxylated SWCNT played duplex roles by acting as both oxidants and catalysts in the reaction.

In chapter 4, we confirmed that SWCNTs bind to horseradish peroxidase (HRP) at a site proximate to the enzyme's activity center and participating in the ET process, enhancing the activity of (HRP) in the solution-based redox reaction. The capability of SWCNT in receiving electrons and the direct attachment of HRP to the surface of SWCNT strongly affected the enzyme activity due to the direct involvement of SWCNT in ET.

In chapter 5, the toxicity of SWCNTs coated with different concentrations of BSA to a human fibroblast cell line was explored. The result indicates that the toxicity of SWCNTs decrease with the higher coating degree as assumed. Then we choose mitochondrion to study the interactions between the proteins and SWCNTs. It turns out that SWCNTs coated with less BSA would have more proteins adsorbed on them, which obviously implies that interfering with the interactions between the nanomaterials and their ambient proteins by coatings would reduce their toxicity.

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