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Toxicity of graphene oxide and multi-walled carbon nanotubes against human cells and zebrafish

Abstract

Graphene possesses unique physical and chemical properties, which have inspired a wide range of potential biomedical applications. However, little is known about the adverse effects of graphene on the human body and ecological environment. The purpose of our work is to make assessment on the toxicity of graphene oxide (GO) against human cell line (human bone marrow neuroblastoma cell line and human epithelial carcinoma cell line) and zebrafish (Danio rerio) by comparing the toxic effects of GO with its sister, multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs). The results show that GO has a moderate toxicity to organisms since it can induce minor (about 20%) cell growth inhibition and slight hatching delay of zebrafish embryos at a dosage of 50 mg/L, but did not result in significant increase of apoptosis in embryo, while MWNTs exhibit acute toxicity leading to a strong inhibition of cell proliferation and serious morphological defects in developing embryos even at relatively low concentration of 25 mg/L. The distinctive toxicity of GO and MWNTs should be ascribed to the different models of interaction between nanomaterials and organisms, which arises from the different geometric structures of nanomaterials. Collectively, our work suggests that GO does actual toxicity to organisms posing potential environmental risks and the result is also shedding light on the geometrical structure-dependent toxicity of graphitic nanomaterials.

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Correspondence to ChengZhi Huang.

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Chen, L., Hu, P., Zhang, L. et al. Toxicity of graphene oxide and multi-walled carbon nanotubes against human cells and zebrafish. Sci. China Chem. 55, 2209–2216 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11426-012-4620-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11426-012-4620-z

Keywords

  • graphene oxide
  • multi-walled carbon nanotubes
  • toxicity
  • cellular apoptosis
  • zebrafish