Toxicity Evaluation of Graphene Oxide in Kidneys of Sprague-Dawley Rats

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Mar 29;13(4):380. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13040380.


Recently, graphene and graphene-related materials have attracted a great deal of attention due their unique physical, chemical, and biocompatibility properties and to their applications in biotechnology and medicine. However, the reports on the potential toxicity of graphene oxide (GO) in biological systems are very few. The present study investigated the response of kidneys in male Sprague-Dawley rats following exposure to 0, 10, 20 and 40 mg/Kg GO for five days. The results showed that administration of GOs significantly increased the activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase in a dose-dependent manner in the kidneys compared with control group. Serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels were also significantly increased in rats intoxicated with GO compared with the control group. There was a significant elevation in the levels of hydrogen peroxide and lipid hydro peroxide in GOs-treated rats compared to control animals. Histopathological evaluation showed significant morphological alterations of kidneys in GO-treated rats compared to controls. Taken together, the results of this study demonstrate that GO is nephrotoxic and its toxicity may be mediated through oxidative stress. In the present work, however, we only provided preliminary information on toxicity of GO in rats; further experimental verification and mechanistic elucidation are required before GO widely used for biomedical applications.

Keywords: Sprague-Dawley rats; blood urea nitrogen; catalase; glutathione peroxidase; graphene oxide; lipid hydroperoxide; serum creatine; superoxide dismutase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Graphite / toxicity*
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxides / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Oxides
  • Graphite
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase