Effects of carbon nanotubes on intercellular communication and involvement of IL-1 genes

Yke Jildouw Arnoldussen, Kristine Haugen Anmarkrud, Vidar Skaug, Ron N. Apte, Aage Haugen, Shanbeh Zienolddiny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


An increasing amount of products containing engineered nanoparticles is emerging. Among these particles are carbon nanotubes (CNTs) which are of interest for a wide range of industrial and biomedical applications. There have been raised concerns over the effects of CNTs on human health. Some types of CNTs are classified as group 2B carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. CNTs may also induce pulmonary inflammatory and fibrotic effects. By utilizing CNTs of different lengths, we investigated the role of the proinflammatory cytokine, interleukin-1 (IL-1) on gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) by using IL-1 wild-type (IL1-WT) and IL-1 knock-out (IL1-KO) cells. GJIC decreased equally in both cell types after CNT exposure. Immunofluorescence staining showed Gja1 and Gjb2 in gap junctions and hemichannels for both cell types. Gjb1 and Gjb2 expression was low in IL1-KO cells, which was confirmed by protein analysis. Gja1 was upregulated with both CNTs, whereas Gjb1 was down-regulated by CNT-2 in IL1-WT cells. Connexin mRNA expression was regulated differently by the CNTs. CNT-1 affected Gja1 and Gjb2, whereas CNT-2 had an effect on Gjb1. CNTs negatively affect GJIC through gap junctions independently of the length of CNT and IL-1 status. Furthermore, connexin gene expression was affected by IL-1 at transcriptional and translational levels. As both CNTs used in this study are cytotoxic to the cells and reduce cell survival, we suggest that CNT-induced reduction in GJIC may be important for inhibiting transfer of cell survival signals between cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cell Communication and Signaling
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • CNT
  • Connexins
  • IL-1
  • Intercellular communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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