Date of Award

Fall 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Christopher J. Osgood

Committee Member

Michael Stacey

Committee Member

Juergen F. Kolb

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B48 K35 2010


The objective of this study was to determine whether multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) suspended in the surfactant Tween 80 give an additive killing effect on tumor cells when exposed to nsPEFs. In this study, MWCNTs were suspended in DMEM and RPMI with or without T80 (surfactant). The size distribution of MWCNTs suspended in these solutions was evaluated with a Delsa™ Nano Zeta potential and sub micro particle Size Analyzer and confirmed with microscopy. The cytotoxicity of MWCNTs dispersed in different concentrations of T80 was evaluated in PANC1 (Human pancreatic cancer cell line) and Jurkat cell lines (Human T-cell lymphoblast cell line). Results showed that Tween 80 played a significant role in the dispersion of MWCNTs in DMEM and RPMI. Results also indicated that there was no significant difference in the dispersion ability in DMEM versus RPMI. Microscopic analysis indicated that MWCNTs formed uniform and well-dispersed suspensions in the presence of Tween 80. Cytotoxicity results showed that the optimum concentration of Tween 80 required to suspend MWCNTs without limiting dispersion properties is 0.2%. Although PANC1 and Jurkat cell lines showed toxicity in the presence of MWCNTs, the concentration of MWCNTs toxic to PANCI and Jurkat cells was different (50 μg/ml in Jurkat cells and 100 μg/ml in PANC1 cells)

NsPEFs are ultra short electric pulses that have the ability to kill tumor cells. PANC1 and Jurkat cells were exposed to nsPEFs in the presence of MWCNTs suspended in 0.2% T80, 0.2% T80 (alone) and compared to exposure in cell culture media (DMEM and RPMI). Results suggest that high concentration of MWCNTs give a strong background in WST-1 cell viability assay and therefore, it is concluded that WST-1 cell viability assay is not suitable to measure cell viability in the presence of MWCNTs. Cell viability results after exposure to nsPEFs elucidates the significant effect of 0.2% Tween 80 in enhancing the killing effect of nsPEFs; in contrast, MWCNTs at the tested concentrations did not have any significant effect on enhancing the killing effects of nsPEFs. Therefore, Tween 80 plays a significant role as good dispersant of MWCNTs and as a potential adjuvant (for example in drug delivery) for nsPEFs in killing tumor cells.


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