Carbon nanotubes degraded by neutrophil myeloperoxidase induce less pulmonary inflammation

Valerian E. Kagan, Nagarjun V. Konduru, Weihong Feng, Brett L. Allen, Jennifer Conroy, Yuri Volkov, Irina I. Vlasova, Natalia A. Belikova, Naveena Yanamala, Alexander Kapralov, Yulia Y. Tyurina, Jingwen Shi, Elena R. Kisin, Ashley R. Murray, Jonathan Franks, Donna Stolz, Pingping Gou, Judith Klein-Seetharaman, Bengt Fadeel, Alexander StarAnna A. Shvedova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

692 Scopus citations


We have shown previously that single-walled carbon nanotubes can be catalytically biodegraded over several weeks by the plant-derived enzyme, horseradish peroxidase. However, whether peroxidase intermediates generated inside human cells or biofluids are involved in the biodegradation of carbon nanotubes has not been explored. Here, we show that hypochlorite and reactive radical intermediates of the human neutrophil enzyme myeloperoxidase catalyse the biodegradation of single-walled carbon nanotubes in vitro, in neutrophils and to a lesser degree in macrophages. Molecular modelling suggests that interactions of basic amino acids of the enzyme with the carboxyls on the carbon nanotubes position the nanotubes near the catalytic site. Importantly, the biodegraded nanotubes do not generate an inflammatory response when aspirated into the lungs of mice. Our findings suggest that the extent to which carbon nanotubes are biodegraded may be a major determinant of the scale and severity of the associated inflammatory responses in exposed individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-359
Number of pages6
JournalNature nanotechnology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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