Toxicity of Oxidatively Degraded Quantum Dots to Developing Zebrafish (Danio rerio)

TitleToxicity of Oxidatively Degraded Quantum Dots to Developing Zebrafish (Danio rerio)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWiecinski, PN, Metz, KM, Heiden, TCK, Louis, KM, Mangham, AN, Hamers, RJ, Heideman, W, Peterson, RE, Pedersen, JA
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Date PublishedAug
ISBN Number0013-936X
Keywordsbasidiomycete gloeophyllum-trabeum, developmental toxicity, embryonic zebrafish, exposure, humic-acid, in-vitro, nanomaterials, selenium toxicity, titanium-dioxide nanoparticles, transformation

Once released into the environment, engineered nanoparticles (eNPs) are subjected to processes that may alter their physical or chemical properties, potentially altering their toxicity vis-a-vis the as-synthesized materials. We examined the toxicity to zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos of CdSecore/ZnSshell quantum dots (QDs) before and after exposure to an in vitro chemical model designed to simulate oxidative weathering in soil environments based on a reductant-driven Fenton's reaction. Exposure to these oxidative conditions resulted in severe degradation of the QDs: the Zn shell eroded, Cd2+ and selenium were released, and amorphous Se-containing aggregates were formed. Products of QD weathering exhibited higher potency than did as-synthesized QDs. Morphological endpoints of toxicity included pericardial, ocular and yolk sac edema, nondepleted yolk, spinal curvature, tail malformations, and craniofacial malformations. To better understand the selenium-like toxicity observed in QD exposures, we examined the toxicity of selenite, selenate, and amorphous selenium nanoparticles (SeNPs). Selenite exposures resulted in high mortality to embryos/larvae while selenate and SeNPs were nontoxic. Co-exposures to SeNPs + CdCl2 resulted in dramatic increase in mortality and recapitulated the morphological endpoints of toxicity observed with exposure to products of QD weathering. Cadmium body burden was increased in larvae exposed to weathered QDs or SeNP + CdCl2 suggesting the increased potency of products of QD weathering was due to selenium modulation of cadmium toxicity. Our findings highlight the need to examine the toxicity of eNPs after they have undergone environmental weathering processes.

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