Effect of carbon nanotubes on cellular functions in vitro

Xiaoming Li, Hong Gao, Motohiro Uo, Yoshinori Sato, Tsukasa Akasaka, Qingling Feng, Fuzhai Cui, Xinhui Liu, Fumio Watari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Citations (Scopus)


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been shown to affect cell behavior. But how and why the CNTs affect potential differentiation of the attached cells has not been largely known. In this study, multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) and graphite (GP) were pressed as compacts. Higher ability of CNTs to adsorb proteins, compared with GP, was shown. Myoblastic mouse cells (C2C12) were cultured and the cell responses to the two kinds of compacts were compared in vitro. Meanwhile, we used cell culture on the culture plate as a control. During the conventional culture, significantly better cell attachment, proliferation, and differentiation of cells on the MWNTs were found. To confirm the hypothesis that the larger amount of protein adsorbed on the CNTs was crucial for this, we made the compacts adsorb more proteins in culture medium with 50% fetal bovine serum (FBS) before cell culture. With the adsorption of the proteins in advance, the increments of the total-protein/DNA and alkaline phosphatase (ALP)/DNA for the MWNTs was respectively as about 11 times and 18 times as the increments of those for GP and the control at both day 4 and day 7. Therefore, the CNTs might induce cellular functions by adsorbing more proteins, which indicated that the CNTs might be a candidate for scaffold material for tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Cell differentiation
  • Protein
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys


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