Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 406, Issue 15, pp 3689–3695 | Cite as

Evaluation of the toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles to Chlorella vulgaris by use of the chiral perturbation approach

  • Hui Zhou
  • Xiaojun Wang
  • Ying ZhouEmail author
  • Hongzhou Yao
  • Farooq Ahmad
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Euroanalysis XVII


The toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) has been widely investigated because of their extensive use in consumer products. The mechanism of the toxicity of ZnO NPs to algae is unclear, however, and it is difficult to differentiate between particle-induced toxicity and the effect of dissolved Zn2+. In the work discussed in this paper we investigated particle-induced toxicity and the effects of dissolved Zn2+ by using the chiral perturbation approach with dichlorprop (DCPP) as chiral perturbation factor. The results indicated that intracellular zinc is important in the toxicity of ZnO NPs, and that ZnO NPs cause oxidative damage. According to dose–response curves for DCPP and the combination of ZnO NPs with (R)-DCPP or (S)-DCPP, the toxicity of DCPP was too low to perturb the toxicity of ZnO NPs, so DCPP was suitable for use as chiral perturbation factor. The different glutathione (GSH) content of algal cells exposed to (R)-DCPP or (S)-DCPP correlated well with different production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) after exposure to the two enantiomers. Treatment of algae with ZnO NPs and (R)-DCPP resulted in reduced levels of GSH and the glutathione/oxidized glutathione (GSH/GSSG) ratio in the cells compared with the control. Treatment of algae with ZnO NPs and (S)-DCPP, however, resulted in no significant changes in GSH and GSH/GSSG. Moreover, trends of variation of GSH and GSH/GSSG were different when algae were treated with ZnSO4·7H2O and the two enantiomers. Overall, the chiral perturbation approach revealed that NPs aggravated generation of ROS and that released Zn2+ and NPs both contribute to the toxicity of ZnO NPs.


explore causes of the toxicity of ZnO NPs by chiral perturbation approach


ZnO nanoparticles nanotoxicity Chiral perturbation Reactive oxygen species Zn2+ Algae 



The authors are very grateful to the Project of Science and Technology Department of Zhejiang Province (2012C37058) and the Key Innovation Team of Science and Technology in Zhejiang Province (2010R50018) for financial support.

Supplementary material

216_2014_7773_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (6 mb)
ESM 1 Supporting information, available free of charge via the internet, includes the characteristics and TEM image of the ZnO NPs, dose–response fitting curves for the effects of ZnO NPs and ZnSO4 on algae, dose–response fitting curves for the effects of (R)-DCPP and (S)-DCPP on algae and on the ultrastructure of the algae. (PDF 5.98 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hui Zhou
    • 1
  • Xiaojun Wang
    • 1
  • Ying Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hongzhou Yao
    • 1
  • Farooq Ahmad
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Chemical Engineering and Materials ScienceZhejiang University of TechnologyHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Research Center of Analysis and MeasurementZhejiang University of TechnologyHangzhouChina

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