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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13(10), 12336-12348; doi:10.3390/ijms131012336

Cytotoxicity of Phenol Red in Toxicity Assays for Carbon Nanoparticles

1,* , 1
1, 1,* , 1
1 Laboratory of Physical Biology, Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201800, China 2 School of Pharmacy, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China 3 Faculty of Life Science and Bioengineering, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315211, China
* Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 August 2012 / Revised: 18 September 2012 / Accepted: 19 September 2012 / Published: 26 September 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioactive Nanoparticles 2012)
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To explore the novel properties of carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) in nanotoxicity assays, the adsorption of phenol red (a pH indicator for culture medium) by multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) and three kinds of carbon blacks (CBs) with nanosize, and its effects on cytotoxicity were studied. Results indicated that the phenol red adsorbed and delivered into cells by CBs was responsible for the toxicity to Hela cells in the medium without serum. The cellular uptake of phenol red was verified using 125I-labeling techniques. The size-dependent cytotoxicity of CBs was found to closely correlate to adsorption of phenol red, cellular uptake of phenol red-CB complexes and the amount of phenol red delivered into the cells by CBs. Although the CBs were either nontoxic or slightly toxic, as vehicles of phenol red, they played an essential role in the cytotoxicity induced by phenol red. However, MWNTs showed an intrinsic cytotoxicity independent of phenol red. The implications associated with these findings are discussed.
Keywords: carbon blacks (CBs); multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs); cytotoxicity; phenol red; adsorption; 125I-labeling carbon blacks (CBs); multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs); cytotoxicity; phenol red; adsorption; 125I-labeling
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Zhu, Y.; Zhang, X.; Zhu, J.; Zhao, Q.; Li, Y.; Li, W.; Fan, C.; Huang, Q. Cytotoxicity of Phenol Red in Toxicity Assays for Carbon Nanoparticles. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13, 12336-12348.

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