Nanomaterials of carbon origin tend to form various shapes of particles in micrometer dimensions. Among them, multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) form fibrous or rod-shaped particles of length around 10 to 20 micrometers with an aspect ratio of more than three. Fibrous particles of this dimension including asbestos and some man-made fibers are reported to be carcinogenic, typically inducing mesothelioma. Here we report that MWCNT induces mesothelioma along with a positive control, crocidolite (blue asbestos), when administered intraperitoneally to p53 heterozygous mice that have been reported to be sensitive to asbestos. Our results point out the possibility that carbon-made fibrous or rod-shaped micrometer particles may share the carcinogenic mechanisms postulated for asbestos. To maintain sound activity of industrialization of nanomaterials, it would be prudent to implement strategies to keep good control of exposure to fibrous or rod-shaped carbon materials both in the workplace and in the future market until the biological/ carcinogenic properties, especially of their long-term biodurability, are fully assessed.
2008 The Japanese Society of Toxicology