A systems toxicology approach on the mechanism of uptake and toxicity of MWCNT in Caenorhabditis elegans

Hyun Jeong Eom, Carlos P. Roca, Ji Yeon Roh, Nivedita Chatterjee, Jae Seong Jeong, Ilseob Shim, Hyun Mi Kim, Phil Je Kim, Kyunghee Choi, Francesc Giralt, Jinhee Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Abstract The increased volumes of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) being utilized in industrial and biomedical processes carries with it an increased risk of unintentional release into the environment, requiring a thorough hazard and risk assessment. In this study, the toxicity of pristine and hydroxylated (OH-) multiwall CNTs (MWCNTs) was investigated in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans using an integrated systems toxicology approach. To gain an insight into the toxic mechanism of MWCNTs, microarray and proteomics were conducted for C. elegans followed by pathway analyses. The results of pathway analyses suggested endocytosis, phagocytosis, oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, as potential mechanisms of uptake and toxicity, which were subsequently investigated using loss-of-function mutants of genes of those pathways. The expression of phagocytosis related genes (i.e. ced-10 and rab-7) were significantly increased upon exposure to OH-MWCNT, concomitantly with the rescued toxicity by loss-of-function mutants of those genes, such as ced-10(n3246) and rab-7(ok511). An increased sensitivity of the hsp-4(gk514) mutant by OH-MWCNT, along with a decreased expression of hsp-4 at both gene and protein level suggests that MWCNTs may affect ER stress response in C. elegans. Collectively, the results implied phagocytosis to be a potential mechanism of uptake of MWCNTs, and ER and oxidative stress as potential mechanisms of toxicity. The integrated systems toxicology approach applied in this study provided a comprehensive insight into the toxic mechanism of MWCNTs in C. elegans, which may eventually be used to develop an "Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP)", a recently introduced concept as a conceptual framework to link molecular level responses to higher level effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7406
Pages (from-to)153-163
Number of pages11
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
StatePublished - 21 Jul 2015


  • Adverse outcome pathway
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Multiwall carbon nanotubes
  • Phagocytosis
  • Systems toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'A systems toxicology approach on the mechanism of uptake and toxicity of MWCNT in Caenorhabditis elegans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this