Saturday, September 24, 2011

Carbon Nanoparticles Break Barriers--and That May Not Be Good

A study by researchers from the schools of science and medicine at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis examines the effects of carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) on living cells. This work is among the first to study concentrations of these tiny particles that are low enough to mimic the actual exposure of an ordinary individual.

The effects on the human body of exposure to CNPs -- minute chemicals with rapidly growing applications in electronics, medicine, and many other fields -- is just beginning to be revealed. Exposure at the level studied by the IUPUI researchers is approximately equivalent to what might be the result of improperly disposing of an item such as a television or computer monitor containing CNPs, living near a CNP producing facility, or working with CNPs.

The research, published in the September 2011 issue of the journal Nanotoxicology, focuses on the effect of low concentration CNP exposure on the cells that line the renal nephron, a tubular structure inside the kidney that makes urine. The investigators found the role of the CNPs in this part of the body to be significant and potentially worrisome.

“Unlike many other studies, we have used low concentrations of CNPs that are typical of what might appear in the body after ingesting them from environmental contamination or even from breathing air with CNPs. We found that these minute particles cause leakage in the cellular lining of the renal nephron,” said study first author Bonnie Blazer-Yost, Ph.D., professor of biology at the School of Science at IUPUI and adjunct professor of cellular and integrative physiology and of anatomy and cell biology at the IU School of Medicine. more