Rheological alteration of erythrocytes exposed to carbon nanotubes

Yujin Heo, Cheng Ai Li, Duckjong Kim, Sehyun Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) have been increasingly used in a variety of biomedical applications, such as in vivo delivery of drugs and tumor imaging. Potential exposure of SWNTs to human red blood cells (RBCs) may cause serious toxicity including alteration of mechanical properties of cells. The present study investigated the cellular response to exposure of SWNTs with measuring rheological characteristics of RBCs, including hemolysis, deformability, aggregation, and morphological changes. RBCs were exposed to two different dispersion-state samples (i.e. individual SWNTs and bundled SWNTs) in chitosan hydroxyphenyl acetamide (CHPA) solutions. The concentrations of SWNTs were carefully chosen to avoid any hemorheological alterations due to hemolysis. Rheological characteristics were measured using microfluidic-laser diffractometry and aggregometry. Our results show that the bundled SWNTs had higher hemolytic activity than did the individual SWNTs. RBC aggregation apparently decreased as the concentration of SWNTs or incubation time increased. Additionally, bundled SWNTs caused significant alterations in the shape and fusion of RBCs. In conclusion, bundled SWNTs were found to be more toxic than individual SWNTs. These results provide important insights into the interactions between RBCs and SWNTs and will facilitate assessment of the risk of nanomaterial toxicity of blood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • aggregation
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • deformability
  • hemolysis
  • RBC membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hematology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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