The interaction of carbon nanotubes with an in vitro blood-brain barrier model and mouse brain in vivo

Houmam Kafa, Julie Tzu-Wen Wang, Noelia Rubio, Kerrie Venner, Glenn Anderson, Elzbieta Pach, Belén Ballesteros, Jane E. Preston, N Joan Abbott, Khuloud T Al-Jamal

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170 Citations (Scopus)
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Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are a novel nanocarriers with interesting physical and chemical properties. Here we investigate the ability of amino-functionalized multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs-NH3(+)) to cross the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) in vitro using a co-culture BBB model comprising primary porcine brain endothelial cells (PBEC) and primary rat astrocytes, and in vivo following a systemic administration of radiolabelled f-MWNTs. Transmission Electron microscopy (TEM) confirmed that MWNTs-NH3(+) crossed the PBEC monolayer via energy-dependent transcytosis. MWNTs-NH3(+) were observed within endocytic vesicles and multi-vesicular bodies after 4 and 24 h. A complete crossing of the in vitro BBB model was observed after 48 h, which was further confirmed by the presence of MWNTs-NH3(+) within the astrocytes. MWNT-NH3(+) that crossed the PBEC layer was quantitatively assessed using radioactive tracers. A maximum transport of 13.0 ± 1.1% after 72 h was achieved using the co-culture model. f-MWNT exhibited significant brain uptake (1.1 ± 0.3% injected dose/g) at 5 min after intravenous injection in mice, after whole body perfusion with heparinized saline. Capillary depletion confirmed presence of f-MWNT in both brain capillaries and parenchyma fractions. These results could pave the way for use of CNTs as nanocarriers for delivery of drugs and biologics to the brain, after systemic administration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-452
Number of pages16
Early online date19 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


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