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CD34+ Stem Cells Used to Study Carbon Nanoparticle Absorption

Jan 21, 2020 10:05:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD

AdobeStock_219155023-1Researchers studied the potential harm of carbon nanoparticle absorption but found that lysosome encapsulation may prevent cell-damage from occurring.  

Carbon nanoparticles are very promising tools for use in the delivery of therapeutic agents in the body and for bioimaging applications to monitor drug distribution and efficacy. These particles have been successfully attached to various therapeutic agents including small drug molecules, vaccines, immunotherapeutic agents, and gene therapies. Agents can be delivered directly into cell targets without first being metabolized. However, are there adverse effects that could potentially overshadow these benefits?

A multidisciplinary team of scientists from Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf studied the possible fate of nanoparticles absorbed into the body by adding graphene nanoparticles to CD34 stem cells (hematopoietic stem cells). CD34 stem cells were chosen for the experiments due to their sensitivity to damage from environmental effects compared to other cell types and their ability to divide during their entire lifespan. They enriched CD34 stem cells from leukapheresis products of healthy donors, and confocal fluorescence microscopy was used to visualize uptake of the nanoparticles by stained living CD34 stem cells.

The researchers observed that the carbon nanoparticles entered the cells and were encapsulated by lysosomes. No other changes were observed for up to 90 hours. They then performed cDNA microarray analysis to study changes in gene expression in nanoparticle-and non-nanoparticle cells incubated for 36 hours. In nanoparticle cells, only 1 out of 20,800 genes changed expression, and a meta-analysis demonstrated very minor changes in the expression of 1,171 other genes. These results showed that 8 signaling pathways were weakly affected. 

It appears that the lysosome encapsulation of the nanoparticles may prevent cell damage, at least for the few-nanometer size particles used in the CD34 stem cell experiments. Cell viability does not seem to be affected by the minor changes in gene expression observed. These results are promising and suggest that carbon nanoparticles may not lead to measurable toxicity. It is recognized, however, that long-term effects cannot be inferred from these results, and more studies are essential to answer the question of chronic toxicity potential.

Medical research relies on quality human-derived biological products. Check out HemaCare’s varied selection of products which help support drug development across the globe. 

Reference: Study Examines Biological Risk Potential of Carbon Nanoparticles. (2019). Retrieved 7 November 2019, from

Topics: Drug Discovery, Stem Cells

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