Objective. Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, penetrate through the cell membrane, and accumulate in the cell nucleus, which purposefully allows their use in the health sciences as imaging probes and drug carriers in the cancer therapy. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of low doses of SWCNTs on the expression of microRNAs associated with the cell proliferation and the brain development in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos.

Methods. The zebrafish embryos (72 h post fertilization) were exposed to low doses of SWCNTs (2 and 8 ng/ml of medium) for 24 or 72 h. The microRNAs (miR-19, miR-21, miR-96, miR-143, miR-145, miR-182, and miR-206) expression levels were measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis.

Results. It was found that low doses of SWCNTs elicited dysregulation in the expression of numerous cell proliferation and brain development-related microRNAs (miR-19, miR-21, miR-96, miR-143, miR-145, miR-182, and miR-206) in dose- (2 and 8 ng/ml of medium) as well as malformations in the zebrafish embryos brain development in a time-dependent (24 and 72 h) manner.

Conclusion. Taken together, the present data indicate that the low doses of SWCNTs disturbed the genome functions and reduced the miR-19, miR-21, miR-96, miR-143, miR-145, miR-182, and miR-206 expression levels in dose- and time-dependent manners and interrupted the brain development in the zebrafish embryos indicating for both the genotoxic and the neurotoxic interventions.