Toxicity assessment and bioaccumulation in zebrafish embryos exposed to carbon nanotubes suspended in Pluronic® F-108

Nanotoxicology. 2016 Aug;10(6):689-98. doi: 10.3109/17435390.2015.1107147. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are often suspended in Pluronic® surfactants by sonication, which may confound toxicity studies because sonication of surfactants can create degradation products that are toxic to mammalian cells. Here, we present a toxicity assessment of Pluronic® F-108 with and without suspended CNTs using embryonic zebrafish as an in vivo model. Pluronic® sonolytic degradation products were toxic to zebrafish embryos just as they were to mammalian cells. When the toxic Pluronic® fragments were removed, there was little effect of pristine multi-walled CNTs (pMWNTs), carboxylated MWNTs (cMWNTs) or pristine single-walled carbon nanotubes (pSWNTs) on embryo viability and development, even at high concentrations. A gel electrophoretic method coupled with Raman imaging was developed to measure the bioaccumulation of CNTs by zebrafish embryos, and dose-dependent uptake of CNTs was observed. These data indicate that embryos accumulate pMWNTs, cMWNTs and pSWNTs yet there is very little embryo toxicity.

Keywords: Environmental toxicology; ecotoxicology; nanotoxicology; nanotubes; toxicology.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / drug effects*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Embryonic Development / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Poloxamer / chemistry
  • Poloxamer / metabolism
  • Poloxamer / toxicity*
  • Sonication*
  • Surface Properties
  • Zebrafish* / embryology
  • Zebrafish* / metabolism


  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Poloxamer