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Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) are engineered nano-materials being developed and used in a wide variety of medical, engineering, and personal products with many potential benefits [1]. However, MWCNT have been shown to cause significant pathological changes in animal models, particularly in the airways, raising the concern that adverse human health effects will emerge with increasing use and exposure to these materials [2-4]. Potential bioactivity of MWCNT, including in vitro and in vivo toxicity and increased inflammation and pathology, has been attributed to their unique physical and chemical characteristics such as length, diameter, contaminants and rigidity [5]. However, MWNCT toxicity and/or the mechanisms of bioactivity have not been extensively studied. Moreover, a mechanistic predictive model based on physical and surface properties of MWCNT has not been established to aid in protecting human health. Given the increasingly widespread use of MWCNT and significant potential for human exposure during their lifecycle, it is imperative that we gain a better understanding of the associated disease processes. In addition, the development of biomarkers for exposure and disease development would represent an important advance in our ability to evaluate future health impacts from potential exposures.

It is becoming more evident that environmental influences can result in physiological changes through epigenetic alterations, which offers a plausible mechanistic explanation, in addition to gene-environment interactions, for some of the molecular events linking environmental exposures with disease onset and development [6]. The goal of my laboratory, with expertise in epigenetic studies, is to create a predictive model for determining inflammation and pathology of MWCNT based on physicochemical properties and epigenetic changes that can be utilized to improve overall safety. Therefore, we used a murine model to determine epigenetic changes and examine their relationship to increased inflammation and development of lung disease in response to various sized MWCNT exposures.


© 2017 Yoon Hee Cho