Interaction of carbohydrate modified boron nitride nanotubes with living cells

Melis Emanet, Özlem Şen, Zehra Çobandede, Mustafa Çulha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) are composed of boron and nitrogen atoms and they show significantly different properties from their carbon analogues (carbon nanotubes, CNTs). Due to their unique properties including low electrical conductivity, and imaging contrast and neutron capture properties; they can be used in biomedical applications. When their use in biological fields is considered, the route of their toxic effect should be clarified. Therefore, the study of interactions between BNNTs and living systems is important in envisaging biological applications at both cellular and sub-cellular levels to fully gain insights of their potential adverse effects. In this study, BNNTs were modified with lactose, glucose and starch and tested for their cytotoxicity. First, the interactions and the behavior of BNNTs with bovine serum albumin (BSA), Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium (DMEM) and DMEM/Nutrient Mixture F-12Ham were investigated. Thereafter, their cellular uptake and the cyto- and genotoxicity on human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) and adenocarcinoma human alveolar basal epithelial cells (A549) were evaluated. HDFs and A549 cells internalized the modified and unmodified BNNTs, and BNNTs were found to not cause significant viability change and DNA damage. A higher uptake rate of BNNTs by A549 cells compared to HDFs was observed. Moreover, a concentration-dependent cytotoxicity was observed on A549 cells while they were safer for HDFs in the same concentration range. Based on these findings, it can be concluded that BNNTs and their derivatives made with biomacromolecules might be good candidates for several applications in medicine and biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)440-446
Number of pages7
JournalColloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Boron nitride nanotubes
  • Carbohydrate modification
  • Cellular uptake
  • Comet assay
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Genotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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