Tuning cell autophagy by diversifying carbon nanotube surface chemistry

Ling Wu, Yi Zhang, Chengke Zhang, Xuehui Cui, Shumei Zhai, Yin Liu, Changlong Li, Hao Zhu, Guangbo Qu, Guibin Jiang, Bing Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


The induction of autophagy by nanoparticles causes nanotoxicity, but appropriate modulation of autophagy by nanoparticles may have therapeutic potential. Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) interact with cell membranes and membrane-associated molecules before and after internalization. These interactions alter cellular signaling and impact major cell functions such as cell cycle, apoptosis, and autophagy. In this work, we demonstrated that MWCNT-cell interactions can be modulated by varying densely distributed surface ligands on MWCNTs. Using a fluorescent autophagy-reporting cell line, we evaluated the autophagy induction capability of 81 surface-modified MWCNTs. We identified strong and moderate autophagy-inducing MWCNTs as well as those that did not induce autophagy. Variation of the surface ligand structure of strong autophagy nanoinducers led to the induction of different autophagy-activating signaling pathways, presumably through their different interactions with cell surface receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2087-2099
Number of pages13
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 25 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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