In Double-Walled-Carbon-Nanotubes (DWCNTs) the outer shell screens the inner one from the external environment. As a consequence, the electronic properties of the smaller tube are enhanced and DWCNTs have therefore been advocated for a number of uses. In their raw form they may contain small metallic clusters, left over from the catalytic process, that can give them a redox activity characterized by redox potentials in the range of one hundred millivolts and able to affect biological systems. Indeed, we find that redox active raw-DWCNTs inhibit rat colorectal cancer cell proliferation by blocking cells in the G2 phase through ROS generation by tumor cells. We show that raw-DWCNTs could also modulate autophagy in tumor cells through induction of intracellular acidification. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that DWCNTs have been found to inhibit proliferation and modulate autophagy in cancer cells. Our work further supports previous studies that provided promising results on the possibility of future applications of Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) in nanomedicine.
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