Carbon nanotubes in macrophages: Imaging and chemical analysis by X-ray fluorescence microscopy

X-ray fluorescence microscopy (μXRF) is applied for the first time to study macrophages exposed to unpurified and purified single-walled (SW) and multiwalled (MW) carbon nanotubes (CNT). Investigating chemical elemental distributions allows one to (i) image nanotube localization within a cell and (ii) detect chemical modification of the cell after CNT internalization. An excess of calcium is detected for cells exposed to unpurified SWCNT and MWCNT and related toxicological assays are discussed.