Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 85, Issue 11, pp 1429–1440

Cytotoxic effects of hydroxylated fullerenes on isolated rat hepatocytes via mitochondrial dysfunction

  • Yoshio Nakagawa
  • Toshinari Suzuki
  • Hidemi Ishii
  • Dai Nakae
  • Akio Ogata
Organ Toxicity and Mechanisms

DOI: 10.1007/s00204-011-0688-z

Cite this article as:
Nakagawa, Y., Suzuki, T., Ishii, H. et al. Arch Toxicol (2011) 85: 1429. doi:10.1007/s00204-011-0688-z


The cytotoxic effects of hydroxylated fullerenes, also termed fullerenols or fullerols [C60(OH)n], which are known nanomaterials and water-soluble fullerene derivatives, were studied in freshly isolated rat hepatocytes. The exposure of hepatocytes to C60(OH)24 caused not only concentration (0–0.25 mM)- and time (0–3 h)-dependent cell death accompanied by the formation of cell blebs, loss of cellular ATP, reduced glutathione (GSH), and protein thiol levels, but also the accumulation of glutathione disulfide and malondialdehyde, indicating lipid peroxidation. Of the other analogues examined, the cytotoxic effects of C60(OH)12 and fullerene C60 at a concentration of 0.125 mM were less than those of C60(OH)24. The loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and generation of oxygen radical species in hepatocytes incubated with C60(OH)24 were greater than those with C60(OH)12 and fullerene C60. In the oxygen consumption of mitochondria isolated from rat liver, the ratios of state-3/state-4 respiration were more markedly decreased by C60(OH)24 and C60(OH)12 compared with C60. In addition, C60(OH)24 and C60(OH)12 resulted in the induction of the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT), and the effects of C60(OH)12 were less than those of C60(OH)24. Taken collectively, these results indicate that (a) mitochondria are target organelles for fullerenols, which elicit cytotoxicity through mitochondrial failure related to the induction of the MPT, mitochondrial depolarization, and inhibition of ATP synthesis in the early stage and subsequently oxidation of GSH and protein thiols, and lipid peroxidation through oxidative stress at a later stage; and (b) the toxic effects of fullerenols may depend on the number of hydroxyl groups participating in fullerene in rat hepatocytes.


Hydroxylated fullerene Fullerenols Mitochondrial dysfunction Oxidative stress Cytotoxicity Rat hepatocytes 



2′,7′-Dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate


Dimethyl sulfoxide




Glutathione disulfide


N-(2-hydroxyethyl)-piperazine-N-(2-ethanesulfonic acid)




Mitochondrial permeability transition


Reactive oxygen species


Membrane potential

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoshio Nakagawa
    • 1
  • Toshinari Suzuki
    • 2
  • Hidemi Ishii
    • 3
  • Dai Nakae
    • 1
  • Akio Ogata
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of PharmacologyTokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public HealthTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Division of Water EnvironmentTokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public HealthTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Molecular and Cellular PathophysiologyShowa Pharmaceutical UniversityTokyoJapan

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