Usefulness of fish cell lines for the initial characterization of toxicity and cellular fate of graphene-related materials (carbon nanofibers and graphene oxide)
Graphene-related materials (GRMs) are one of the most attractive materials from an application perspective, consequently their release into aquatic environments is highly likely. In the present work, the potential of fish hepatocytes (topminnow fish hepatoma cell line, PLHC-1) and macrophages (carp leukocyte cell line, CLC) to study the toxicity and intracellular fate of helical-ribbon carbon nanofibers (CNFs) and graphene oxide (GO) used in a variety of intermediate industrial products was evaluated, allowing a first ranking of GRMs according to their cytotoxicity. Cells were exposed to a concentration range of 0–200 μg ml−1 of GRMs for 24 and 72 h and cell viability was assessed by measuring mitochondrial activity (AlamarBlue assay), plasma membrane integrity (5-carboxyfluorescein diacetate-acetoxymethyl ester assay) and lysosomal function (neutral red uptake assay). Results showed that both the cell type and the choice of endpoint determined the toxicity of GRMs. In both cell lines, CNFs appeared to have higher toxicity than GO and the highest degree of graphitization in fibers was associated with lower toxicity. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that CNFs were taken up into membrane-bound compartments of PLHC-1 cells in a size-independent manner, whereas in CLC, longer CNFs were encountered free in the cytoplasm and only the shorter CNFs were localized in membrane-surrounded vesicles. GO sheets were present within vesicles as well as free in the cytoplasm of both cell types. These findings contribute to the understanding of the toxicity and behaviour of these GRMs in living systems, therefore aiding in designing safer materials for the environment.
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