Toxicity of multi-walled carbon nanotubes, graphene oxide, and reduced graphene oxide to zebrafish embryos

Biomed Environ Sci. 2014 Sep;27(9):676-83. doi: 10.3967/bes2014.103.


Objective: This study was aimed to investigate the toxic effects of 3 nanomaterials, i.e. multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), graphene oxide (GO), and reduced graphene oxide (RGO), on zebrafish embryos.

Methods: The 2-h post-fertilization (hpf) zebrafish embryos were exposed to MWCNTs, GO, and RGO at different concentrations (1, 5, 10, 50, 100 mg/L) for 96 h. Afterwards, the effects of the 3 nanomateria on spontaneous movement, heart rate, hatching rate, length of larvae, mortality, and malformations ls were evaluated.

Results: Statistical analysis indicated that RGO significantly inhibited the hatching of zebrafish embryos. Furthermore, RGO and MWCNTs decreased the length of the hatched larvae at 96 hpf. No obvious morphological malformation or mortality was observed in the zebrafish embryos after exposure to the three nanomaterials.

Conclusion: MWCNTs, GO, and RGO were all toxic to zebrafish embryos to influence embryos hatching and larvae length. Although no obvious morphological malformation and mortality were observed in exposed zebrafish embryos, further studies on the toxicity of the three nanomaterials are still needed.

Keywords: Graphene Oxide; Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes; Reduced Graphene Oxide; Toxicity; Zebrafish Embryos.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Embryonic Development / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Graphite / toxicity*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Male
  • Movement / drug effects
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Oxides / toxicity*
  • Toxicity Tests
  • Zebrafish


  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Oxides
  • Graphite