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The Interaction of Serum Proteins with Carbon Nanotubes Depend on the Physicochemical Properties of Nanotubes

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With more and more potential applications of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in different fields, the risk of exposure to CNTs is increasing. The interaction between CNTs and protein in biological media can affect the way cells interact with, recognize and process the nanoparticles, and this has important implications for safety considerations. In this study, the interaction of single-walled and multiwall CNTs with various serum proteins was investigated. The adsorption kinetics of protein to CNTs was investigated and a semi-qualitative analysis was provided by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Matrix assisted laser desorption ionization/time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) was used to identify the protein species binding to CNTs and atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to vividly demonstrate the adsorption model of protein on CNTs. All the experimental results showed that the adsorption capacity of CNTs for protein was highly dependent on the type, arrangement model, size and surface modification of CNTs. Significant quantity of proteins in serum could be quickly adsorbed by CNTs, mainly including albumin, prealbumin, transferrin, and immunoglobulin. Noncovalent functionalization of CNTs by polyethylene glycol (PEG) could decrease the protein adsorption on CNTs. These results provide crucial insights into human serum proteins binding to different kinds of CNTs, which is important for understanding the safe application of carbon nanotubes.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2011

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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