Adsorption and desorption of phenanthrene on carbon nanotubes in simulated gastrointestinal fluids

Zhenyu Wang, Jian Zhao, Lei Song, Hamid Mashayekhi, Benny Chefetz, Baoshan Xing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adsorption of phenanthrene on carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and bioaccessibility of adsorbed phenanthrene were studied in simulated gastrointestinal fluids. Adsorption of phenanthrene on CNTs was suppressed in pepsin (800 mg/L) solution (gastric) and bile salt (500 and 5000 mg/L) fluids (intestinal). In addition to competitive sorption, pepsin and high-concentration bile salt (5000 mg/L, above critical micelle concentration) solubilized phenanthrene (3 and 30 times of the water solubility, respectively), thus substantially reduced phenanthrene adsorption on CNTs. Pepsin and bile salts also increased the rapidly desorbing phenanthrene fraction from CNTs. The rapidly desorbing phase lasted less than 1 h for all CNTs. Further, 43-69% of phenanthrene was released from CNTs after desorption in the simulated gastric and intestinal fluid at low bile salt concentration while 53-86% was released in the gastric and intestinal fluid at high bile salt concentration. These findings suggest that the release of residual hydrophobic organic compounds from CNTs could be enhanced by biomolecules such as pepsin and bile salts in the digestive tract, thus increasing the bioaccessibility of adsorbed phenanthrene and possibly the overall toxicity of phenanthrene associated CNTs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6018-6024
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number14
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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