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A recent webinar with speakers from the CDC was recorded by the NanoSafety Cluster highlighting work on occupational exposure to carbon nanotubes and nanofibers (CNT/F). Previous studies have shown pulmonary and systemic health hazards to occupational workers. This presentation focuses on possible immune effects.

To measure these immune effects in the field, TruCulture’s ex vivo system was used to culture whole blood and stimulate immune responses in 102 workers, mimicking in vivo responses. The microbial stimulants selected were lipopolysaccharide/LPS and staphylococcal enterotoxin type B/SEB.

Given the low occupational exposure rate to workers, the thought was TruCulture could help uncover underlying sub-clinical effects.

The advantages of using TruCulture’s ex vivo system include:

  • Standard and customized stimulants available – decide what immune response(s) you want to characterize
  • Standardized collection system – limits cell manipulation compared to PBMC’s
  • Retains all circulating factors – granulocytes, platelets, red blood cells, soluble factors and Fc receptor expressing cells
  • Null tube allows each person to be their own control – reduce noise

The researchers measured levels of CNT/F after multiple days of exposure through structure count and elemental carbon air concentrations. To determine if CNT/F exposure was related to protein response, a ratio of stimulant to null response was analyzed using multiple linear regression and principal component analysis of each protein.

Immune response was shown to be significantly reduced by CNT/F exposureby an inverse association with stimulant to null ratios of multiple biomarkers

This approach shows that TruCulture may be a sensitive tool to evaluate human immune response to other occupational exposures including CNT/F.


Click here for details on authors Matthew Dahm, Aaron Erdely, and Mary K. Schubauer-Berigan.

Topic Paper:

Association of occupational exposures with ex vivo functional immune response in workers handling carbon nanotubes and nanofibers. (2020) Schubauer-Berigan MK, et al. Nanotoxicology.

Other References:

Oxidative stress and reduced responsiveness of challenged circulating leukocytes following pulmonary instillation of metal-rich particulate matter in rats. (2014) Erdely A, et al. Part Fibre Toxicol

Exposure assessments for a crosss-sectional epidemiologic study of US carbon nanotube and nanofiber workers. (2018) Dahm MM, et al. Int J Hyg Environ Health.

Carbon nanotube and nanofiber exposure and sputum and blood biomarkers of early effect among US workers. (2018) Beard JD, et al. Environ Int.

Association of pulmonary, cardiovascular, and hematologic metrics with carbon nanotube and nanofiber exposure among US workers: a cross-sectional study. (2018) Schubauer-Berigan MK, et al. Part Fibre Toxicol.

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