Exposure to copper nanoparticles causes gill injury and acute lethality in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Academic Article


  • Increasing use of metallic nanomaterials is likely to result in release of these particles into aqueous environments; however, it is unclear if these materials present a hazard to aquatic organisms. Because some dissolution of metal particles will occur, it is important to distinguish effects of nanoparticulates from dissolved metals. To address this issue, acute toxicity of soluble copper and 80 nm copper nanoparticle suspensions were examined in zebrafish. The results demonstrate that nanocopper is acutely toxic to zebrafish, with a 48 h LC50 concentration of 1.5 mg/L. Rapid aggregation of copper nanoparticles occurred after suspension in water, resulting in 50-60% of added mass leaving the water column. While dissolution of particulate copper occurred, it was insufficient to explain the mortality in nanocopper exposures. Histological and biochemical analysis revealed that the gill was the primary target organ for nanocopper. To further investigate the effects of nanocopper on the gill, zebrafish were exposed to 100 μg/L of nanocopper or to the concentration of soluble copper matching that present due to dissolution of the particles. Under these conditions, nanocopper produced different morphological effects and global gene expression patterns in the gill than soluble copper, clearly demonstrating that the effects of nanocopper on gill are not mediated solely by dissolution. © 2007 American Chemical Society.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Griffitt RJ; Weil R; Hyndman KA; Denslow ND; Powers K; Taylor D; Barber DS
  • Start Page

  • 8178
  • End Page

  • 8186
  • Volume

  • 41
  • Issue

  • 23