Carbon black nanoparticles can cause cell death

May 18, 2011

Researchers from the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine have found that inhaled carbon black nanoparticles create a double source of inflammation in the lungs.

Their findings were published online in the April 27 edition of the . Martha Monick, Ph.D., UI professor of , was lead author of the paper, "Induction of Inflammasome Dependent Pyroptosis by Carbon Black Nanoparticles," which outlined the results.

Monick said researchers expected to find one level of inflammation when cells were exposed to carbon black nanoparticles. They were surprised, however, to find that nanoparticles activated a special and killed cells in a way that further increased inflammation. She said the research showed that the intake of carbon black nanoparticles from sources such as diesel fuel or printer ink caused an initial inflammatory response in . The surprising results came when the team discovered that these nanoparticles killed – immune cells in the lungs responsible for cleaning up and attacking infections – in a way that also increases inflammation.

"Apoptosis is one way cells die in which all the contents stay in the cell, the cell just keeps shrinking onto itself and the surrounding tissue is protected," Monick said. "We thought that was what was happening with the carbon nanoparticles; we were wrong. A different process called pyroptosis was occurring, causing the cells to burst and spill their contents."

That, she said, can cause a secondary .

Monick cautioned that the doses of carbon black nanoparticles used in the study were much more concentrated than the amounts to which a person might typically be exposed.

"This doesn't mean that walking through a cloud of diesel exhaust will hurt your lungs," she said. "It does show that we may have an environmental exposure that could contribute to inflammation in the lung."

Explore further: Michigan State research sheds new light on health dangers of nanoparticles

Related Stories

Nanoparticles trigger cell death?

November 13, 2008

Nanoparticles that are one milliard of a metre in size are widely used, for example, in cosmetics and food packaging materials. There are also significant amounts of nanoparticles in exhaust emissions. However, very little ...

Recommended for you

Physicists develop new technique to fathom 'smart' materials

November 26, 2015

Physicists from the FOM Foundation and Leiden University have found a way to better understand the properties of manmade 'smart' materials. Their method reveals how stacked layers in such a material work together to bring ...

Mathematicians identify limits to heat flow at the nanoscale

November 24, 2015

How much heat can two bodies exchange without touching? For over a century, scientists have been able to answer this question for virtually any pair of objects in the macroscopic world, from the rate at which a campfire can ...

New sensor sends electronic signal when estrogen is detected

November 24, 2015

Estrogen is a tiny molecule, but it can have big effects on humans and other animals. Estrogen is one of the main hormones that regulates the female reproductive system - it can be monitored to track human fertility and is ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 19, 2011
Mayor Bloomberg of NYC needs to change the laws and stop the burning of #4 and #6 TAR oil in heating. It comes out of the chimneys as jet black smoke and smells like burning plastic.

The soot that comes out of these heaters is twice the amount of all the traffic that flows through NYC daily! Imagine that!!!

Mike Bloomberg, Read this article! Your Billions can't protect your lungs if you are living and working in Manhattan. Think about that!!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.