Aggregation raises attention in Nanotoxicology due to its methodological implications. Aggregation is a physical symptom of a more general physicochemical condition of colloidal particles, namely, colloidal stability. Colloidal stability is a global indicator of the tendency of a system to reduce its net surface energy, which may be achieved by homo-aggregation or hetero-aggregation, including location at bio-interfaces. However, the role of colloidal stability as a driver of ENM bioactivity has received little consideration thus far. In the present work, which focuses on the toxicity of nanoscaled Fe° nanoparticles (nZVI) towards a model microalga, we demonstrate that colloidal stability is a fundamental driver of ENM bioactivity, comprehensively accounting for otherwise inexplicable differential biological effects. The present work throws light on basic aspects of Nanotoxicology, and reveals a key factor which may reconcile contradictory results on the influence of aggregation in bioactivity of ENMs.
The preparation of aqueous suspensions of carbon-based nanomaterials (NMs) requires the use of dispersing agents to overcome their hydrophobic character. Although studies on the toxicity of NMs have focused primarily on linking the characteristics of particles to biological responses, the role of dispersing agents has been overlooked. This study assessed the biological effects of a number of commonly used dispersing agents on Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata and Ceriodaphnia dubia as model test organisms. The results show that for a given organism, NM toxicity can be mitigated by use of nontoxic surfactants, and that a multispecies approach is necessary to account for the sensitivity of different organisms. In addition to the intrinsic physicochemical properties of NMs, exposure studies should take into account the effects of used dispersing fluids.
Experimental conditions that mimic likely scenarios of manufactured nanomaterials (MNs) introduction to aquatic systems were used to assessthe effect of nanoparticle dispersion/solubility and water chemical composition on MN-toxicity. Aqueous suspensions of fullerenes (C60), nanosilver (nAg), and nanocopper (nCu) were prepared in both deionized water and filtered (0.45 microm) natural river water samples collected from the Suwannee River basin, to emphasize differences in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations and solution ionic strengths (I). Two toxicity tests, the Ceriodaphnia dubia and MetPLATE bioassays were used. Results obtained from exposure studies show that water chemistry affects the suspension/solubility of MNs as well as the particle size distribution, resulting in a wide range of biological responses depending on the type of toxicity test used. Under experimental conditions used in this study, C60 exhibited no toxicity even when suspended concentrations exceeded 3 mg L(-1). MetPLATE results showed that the toxicity of aqueous suspensions of nCu tends to increase with increasing DOC concentrations, while increasing I reduces nCu toxicity. The use of the aquatic invertebrate C. dubia on the other hand showed a tendency for decreased mortality with increasing DOC and I. MetPLATE results for nAg showed decreasing trends in toxicity with increasing DOC concentrations and I. However, C. dubia exhibited contrasting biological responses, in that increasing DOC concentrations reduced toxicity, while the latter increased with increasing I. Overall, our results show that laboratory experiments that use DI-water and drastic MN-suspension methods may not be realistic as MN-dispersion and suspension in natural waters vary significantly with water chemistry and the reactivity of MNs.
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