, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 677–687 | Cite as

Multibiomarker response in the earthworm Eisenia fetida as tool for assessing multi-walled carbon nanotube ecotoxicity

  • A. Calisi
  • A. Grimaldi
  • A. Leomanni
  • M. G. LionettoEmail author
  • F. Dondero
  • T. Schettino


Carbon nanotubes have received a great attention in the last years thanks to their remarkable structural, electrical, and chemical properties. Nowadays carbon nanotubes are increasingly found in terrestrial and aquatic environment and potential harmful impacts of these nanoparticles on humans and wildlife are attracting increasing research and public attention. The effects of carbon nanotubes on aquatic organisms have been explored by several authors, but comparatively the information available on the impact of these particles on soil organisms is much less. Earthworms have traditionally been considered to be convenient indicators of land use impact and soil fertility. The aim of this work was to study the integrated response of a suite of biomarkers covering molecular to whole organism endpoints for the assessment of multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNTs) effects on earthworms (Eisenia fetida) exposed to spiked soil. Results showed that cellular and biochemical responses, such as immune cells morphometric alterations and lysosomal membrane destabilization, acetylcholinesterase inhibition and metallothionein tissue concentration changes, showed high sensitivity to MWCNTs exposure. They can improve our understanding and ability to predict chronic toxicity outcomes of MWCNTs exposure such as reproductive alterations. In this context although more investigation is needed to understand the mechanistic pathway relating the biochemical and cellular biomarker analyzed to reproductive alterations, the obtained results give an early contribution to the future development of an adverse outcomes pathways for MWCNTs exposure.


Earthworms Carbon nanotubes Multi welled carbon nanotubes Biomarkers 



The present study was carried out within the framework of projects funded by MIUR.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Calisi
    • 1
  • A. Grimaldi
    • 2
  • A. Leomanni
    • 1
  • M. G. Lionetto
    • 1
    Email author
  • F. Dondero
    • 3
  • T. Schettino
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche e Ambientali (DiSTeBA)Università del SalentoLecceItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Biotecnologie e Scienze della VitaUniversità dell’InsubriaVareseItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Scienze e Innovazione TecnologicaUniversità del Piemonte OrientaleAlessandriaItaly

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