Effect of carbon nanomaterial dimension on the functional activity and degeneration of neurons

Hyojin Lee, Seongchan Kim, Kyeong Seob Hwang, Nu Ri Lim, Han Bin Oh, Il Joo Cho, Jongbaeg Kim, Ki Hun Kim, Hong Nam Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite growing concerns regarding the threat of airborne nanoparticle-mediated brain degeneration, the underlying pathological mechanisms remain unclear. Carbon nanomaterials, the main components of airborne nanoparticles, have multi-dimensional structures. Therefore, the dimensional effect of carbon-based nanomaterials on the regulation of neural function in brain disorders requires additional clarification. Herein, we report the interaction between zero-to three-dimensional carbon nanostructures and the amyloid-beta protein, which can either activate or interrupt neuronal functions, depending on the dimension of the carbon nanostructures. The carbon nanomaterials induced significant cellular activation by short-term exposure, while prolonged exposure eventually caused neuronal cell death. Such dimension-dependent activation or degeneration was more evident in the higher-dimension carbon nanomaterials, as confirmed by the increases in neurotransmitter secretion and synapse-related protein levels to more than five times at 72 h of monitoring and calcium signaling in the neurons. The inclusion of amyloid-beta proteins ameliorated the cytotoxic effects of carbon nanomaterials in higher-dimensional carbon nanomaterials by regulating 333 genes. We found that the ɑ-synuclein gene is the key factor in carbon-induced abnormal neuronal function. Therefore, through biological analyses and in vitro feasibility studies, this new insight may contribute toward understanding the pathological mechanism and finding a new target for therapy in human brain pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121232
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the National Research Foundation of Korea ( NRF, South Korea ) funded by the Korean Government ( Ministry of Science and ICT , MSIT ) (grant nos. 2021R1A2B5B02096828 , 2020R1C1C1011684 , and 2021R1C1C1005050 ). This research was also supported by KIST intramural grants ( 2E31121 and 2E30965 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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