Engineered nanomaterials (ENM) are becoming an issue of great concern regarding their health effects. Different types of ENM are being used today in everyday consumer products as well as professional equipment such as medical devices. Several ENM, even those used in products that are already on the market, have been shown to be cytotoxic, genotoxic and immunotoxic in experimental settings, but knowledge is still too scarce and inconsistent for efficient and accurate risk assessment on ENM exposure and the materials are still classified according to the toxicity of their respective bulk material. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are among the most utilized ENM and studies have indicated that certain types may have similar health effects as the well-known human carcinogen, asbestos.
The toxic effects of CNTs have been investigated at several levels, but the genetic mechanisms behind these effects are still largely unknown. Toxicogenomics investigates the multifaceted genomic responses to xenobiotic substances in biological systems on a genome-wide level. Thus, toxicogenomic studies may reveal the genomic changes related to CNT exposure and may give insight into the mechanisms behind their hazardous effects.
In this study genetic features such as mRNA and microRNA expression changes as well as histone modification patterns will be profiled on a genome-wide level in a bronchial epithelial cell line following exposure to various carbon nanomaterials, including CNTs. Asbestos will be used as a positive control. This will enable the identification of early genomic changes which may elucidate the mechanism of action behind the cellular responses to these ENM and possibly reveal eventual toxic outcomes following exposure. Furthermore, the results are anticipated to lay a foundation for accurate risk assessment of CNTs.
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