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The ability of two types of single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT), namely Arc Discharge (AD) and HiPco® single walled carbon nanotubes, to induce an indirect cytotoxicity in A549 lung cells by means of medium depletion was investigated. The nanotubes were dispersed in a commercial cell culture medium and subsequently removed by centrifugation and filtration. Spectroscopic analysis confirmed the removal of the nanotubes and showed differing degrees of alteration of the composition of the medium upon the removal of the nanotubes. The ability to induce an indirect cytotoxic effect by altering the medium was evaluated using two endpoints, namely the Alamar Blue (AB) and the Clonogenic assay. Exposure of the A549 cells to the depleted medium which had previously contained carbonaceous nanoparticles, revealed significant cytotoxicity for both endpoints employed. The results presented demonstrate that single walled carbon nanotubes can induce an indirect cytotoxicity by alteration of cell culture medium (in which they have previously been dispersed) which potentially results in a false positive toxic effect being observed in cytotoxicity studies.
Casey, A., Herzog, E., Lyng, F. M., Byrne, H. J., Chambers, G. and Davoren, M. "Single walled carbon nanotubes induce indirect cytotoxicity by medium depletion in A549 lung cells." Toxicology Letters, 179, 78-84 (2008) doi:10.1016/j.toxlet.2008.04.006