Scientists use fluorescence to track ultrafine particles taken up by white blood cells
In some of the first work documenting the uptake of carbon nanotubes by living cells, a team of chemists and life scientists from Rice University, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Texas Heart Institute have selectively detected low concentrations of nanotubes in laboratory cell cultures.
The research appears in the Dec. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. It suggests that the white blood cells, which were incubated in dilute solutions of nanotubes, treated the nanotubes as they would other extracellular particles – actively ingesting them and sealing them off inside chambers known as phagosomes. "Our goal in doing the experiment was both to learn how the biological function of the cells was affected by the nanotubes and to see if the fluorescent properties of the nanotubes would change inside a living cell," said lead researcher Bruce Weisman, professor of chemistry at Rice. "On the first point, we found no adverse effects on the cells, and on the second, we found that the nanotubes retained their unique optical properties, which allowed us to use a specialized microscope tuned to the near-infrared to pinpoint their locations within the cells."
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