BACKGROUND: Graphene oxide (GO) is a promising nanomaterial for potential application in the versatile field of biomedicine. Graphene-based nanomaterials have been reported to modulate the functionality of immune cells in culture and to induce pulmonary inflammation in mice. Evidence pertaining to the interaction between graphene-based nanomaterials and the immune system in vivo remains scarce. The present study investigated the effect of polyethylene glycol-coated GO (PEG-GO) on antigen-specific immunity in vivo. METHODS: BALB/c mice were intravenously administered with a single dose of PEG-GO (0.5 or 1 mg/kg) 1 hour before ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization, and antigen-specific antibody production and splenocyte reactivity were measured 7 days later. RESULTS: Exposure to PEG-GO significantly attenuated the serum level of OVA-specific immunoglobulin E. The production of interferon-γ and interleukin-4 by splenocytes restimulated with OVA in culture was enhanced by treatment with PEG-GO. In addition, PEG-GO augmented the metabolic activity of splenocytes restimulated with OVA but not with the T-cell mitogen concanavalin A. CONCLUSION: Collectively, these results demonstrate that systemic exposure to PEG-GO modulates several aspects of antigen-specific immune responses, including the serum production of immunoglobulin E and T-cell functionality.
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