Lung Persistence, Biodegradation, and Elimination of Graphene-Based Materials are Predominantly Size-Dependent and Mediated by Alveolar Phagocytes

Thomas Loret, Luis Augusto Visani de Luna, Matteo Andrea Lucherelli, Alexander Fordham, Neus Lozano, Alberto Bianco, Kostas Kostarelos, Cyrill Bussy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Graphene-based materials (GBMs) have promising applications in various sectors, including pulmonary nanomedicine. Nevertheless, the influence of GBM physicochemical characteristics on their fate and impact in lung has not been thoroughly addressed. To fill this gap, the biological response, distribution, and bio-persistence of four different GBMs in mouse lungs up to 28 days after single oropharyngeal aspiration are investigated. None of the GBMs, varying in size (large versus small) and carbon to oxygen ratio as well as thickness (few-layers graphene (FLG) versus thin graphene oxide (GO)), induce a strong pulmonary immune response. However, recruited neutrophils internalize nanosheets better and degrade GBMs faster than macrophages, revealing their crucial role in the elimination of small GBMs. In contrast, large GO sheets induce more damages due to a hindered degradation and long-term persistence in macrophages. Overall, small dimensions appear to be a leading feature in the design of safe GBM pulmonary nanovectors due to an enhanced degradation in phagocytes and a faster clearance from the lungs for small GBMs. Thickness also plays an important role, since decreased material loading in alveolar phagocytes and faster elimination are found for FLGs compared to thinner GOs. These results are important for designing safer-by-design GBMs for biomedical application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2301201
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2023


  • Carbon materials
  • toxicity
  • in vivo
  • alveolar phagocytes
  • degradation
  • clearance
  • carbon materials

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Lydia Becker Institute
  • National Graphene Institute


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  • CDT in Science and Applications of Graphene and Related Nanomaterial

    Grigorieva, I., Burnett, H., Cusworth, E., Deaconu, D., Dumitriu-Iovanescu, A., Kang, Y., Little, J., Rees, E., Selles, F., Shaker, M., Soong, Y., Swindell, J., Tainton, G., Wood, H., Astles, T., Carl, A., Chen, G., Richard De Latour, H., Dowinton, O., Haskell, S., Hills, K., Hoole, C., Huang, Y., Kalsi, T., Powell, L., Quiligotti, K., Rimmer, J., Smith, L., Thornley, W., Yang, J., Young, W., Zhao, M., Al Busaidi, R., Al Ruqeishi, E., Chadha, A., Chen, M., Dennis, G., Dunn, E., Gamblen, E., Gao, Y., Georgantas, Y., Jiang, Z., Karakasidi, A., Mcellistrim, A., Meehan, M., Okwelogu, E., Taylor, M., Wang, W., Xin, B., Castle, C., Clout, P., Dean, S., Fordham, A., Griffin, E., Hardwick, T., Hawkins-Pottier, G., Jones, A., Lewthwaite, K., Monteil, S., Moulsdale, C., Mullan, C., Orts Mercadillo, V., Sanderson, D., Skliueva, I., Skuse, C., Steiner, P., Winstanley, B., Barry, D., Brooks, D., Cai, J., Chen, Y., Chen, C., Draude, A., Emmerson, C., Gavriliuc, V., Greaves, M., Higgins, E., Mcmaster, R., Mcnair, R., O'Brien, C., Peasey, A., Pinter, G., Shao, S., Thomas, D., Thomas, D., Tsim, L. T. B., Wengraf, J., Weston, A., Yu, T., De Libero, H., Chan, K. C., Tan, Y. T. & Thomson, T.


    Project: Other

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