Exposure to graphene oxide at environmental concentrations induces thyroid endocrine disruption and lipid metabolic disturbance in Xenopus laevis

Chemosphere. 2019 Dec;236:124834. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.124834. Epub 2019 Sep 13.


Graphene oxide (GO) has become a topic of increasing concern for its environmental and health risks. However, the potential toxic effects of GO on wildlife remain limited. The present study chose the Xenopus laevis tadpole as a model to assess the thyroid endocrine disruption as well as the lipid metabolic disturbance of GO. Tadpoles at the 51 stage were exposed to GO (0, 0.01, 0.1, and 1 mg/L) for 21 days, when tadpoles were undergoing an extremely complicated phase of morphological changes and growth. GO treatment showed obvious developmental toxicity, such as shortened snout-to-vent length (SVL) and hind limb length (HLL), decreased body weight, and delayed developmental stage. Exposure to GO also induced obvious decreases in whole-body triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxin (T4) concentrations. The mRNA expression of genes related to the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis also changed significantly. Furthermore, we observed significant decline in the fatty acids and triglycerides (TGs) concomitantly with changes in the expression of genes involved in the synthesis and metabolism of lipids in GO exposure groups. In contrast, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and total bile acid levels increased remarkably, but cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDH) levels showed no obvious changes. Taken together, the results revealed for the first time that GO could induce thyroid endocrine disruption and produce obvious disturbance effect on lipid synthesis and metabolism.

Keywords: Graphene oxide; Lipid metabolism; Thyroid endocrine disruption; Xenopus laevis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Graphite / pharmacology
  • Graphite / toxicity*
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Metamorphosis, Biological / drug effects
  • Oxides / pharmacology
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Thyroxine / metabolism
  • Triiodothyronine / metabolism
  • Xenopus laevis / growth & development
  • Xenopus laevis / metabolism*


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Oxides
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • graphene oxide
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Graphite
  • Thyroxine