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Developmental toxicity of CdTe QDs in zebrafish embryos and larvae

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Quantum dots (QDs) have widely been used in biomedical and biotechnological applications. However, few studies focus on the assessing toxicity of QDs exposure in vivo. In this study, zebrafish embryos were treated with CdTe QDs (4 nm) during 4–96 h post-fertilization (hpf). Mortality, hatching rate, malformation, heart rate, and QDs uptake were detected. We also measured the larval behavior to analyze whether QDs had persistent effects on larvae locomotor activity at 144 hpf. The results showed that as the exposure dosages increased, the hatching rate and heart rate of zebrafish embryos were decreased, while the mortality increased. Exposure to QDs caused embryonic malformations, including head malformation, pericardial edema, yolk sac edema, bent spine, and yolk not depleted. QDs fluorescence was mainly localized in the intestines region. The larval behavior testing showed that the total swimming distance was decreased in a dose-dependent manner. The lowest dose (2.5 nM QDs) produced substantial hyperactivity while the higher doses groups (5, 10, and 20 nM QDs) elicited remarkably hypoactivity in dark periods. In summary, the data of this article indicated that QDs caused embryonic developmental toxicity, resulted in persistent effects on larval behavior.

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The authors would like to thank Prof. Ying Mu from Zhejiang University for the preparation of CdTe QDs. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 81230065 and 81172704), the Funding Project for Academic Human Resources Development of Beijing Education Committee (PHR201006110), and the Innovative Team Project of Beijing Education Committee (PHR201107116).

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Correspondence to Shuangqing Peng or Zhiwei Sun.

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Duan, J., Yu, Y., Li, Y. et al. Developmental toxicity of CdTe QDs in zebrafish embryos and larvae. J Nanopart Res 15, 1700 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11051-013-1700-8

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  • Quantum dots (QDs)
  • Zebrafish
  • Embryonic developmental toxicity
  • QDs uptake
  • Larval behavior