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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 398302, 17 pages
Research Article

Pulmonary Toxicity, Distribution, and Clearance of Intratracheally Instilled Silicon Nanowires in Rats

1Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA
2T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM, Route 134, P.O. Box 218, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA

Received 18 January 2012; Accepted 10 March 2012

Academic Editor: Ivo Iavicoli

Copyright © 2012 Jenny R. Roberts et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Silicon nanowires (Si NWs) are being manufactured for use as sensors and transistors for circuit applications. The goal was to assess pulmonary toxicity and fate of Si NW using an in vivo experimental model. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were intratracheally instilled with 10, 25, 50, 100, or 250 μg of Si NW (~20–30 nm diameter; ~2–15 μm length). Lung damage and the pulmonary distribution and clearance of Si NW were assessed at 1, 3, 7, 28, and 91 days after-treatment. Si NW treatment resulted in dose-dependent increases in lung injury and inflammation that resolved over time. At day 91 after treatment with the highest doses, lung collagen was increased. Approximately 70% of deposited Si NW was cleared by 28 days with most of the Si NW localized exclusively in macrophages. In conclusion, Si NW induced transient lung toxicity which may be associated with an early rapid particle clearance; however, persistence of Si NW over time related to dose or wire length may lead to increased collagen deposition in the lung.