Send to

Choose Destination
Nanotoxicology. 2011 Mar;5(1):43-54. doi: 10.3109/17435390.2010.489207. Epub 2010 Jun 14.

Comparison of the toxicity of silver, gold and platinum nanoparticles in developing zebrafish embryos.

Author information

Department of Chemistry, National University of Singapore, Singapore.


Nanoparticles have diverse applications in electronics, medical devices, therapeutic agents and cosmetics. While the commercialization of nanoparticles is rapidly expanding, their health and environmental impact is not well understood. Toxicity assays of silver, gold, and platinum nanoparticles, using zebrafish embryos to study their developmental effects were carried out. Gold (Au-NP, 15-35 nm), silver (Ag-NP, 5-35 nm) and platinum nanoparticles (Pt-NP, 3-10 nm) were synthesized using polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) as a capping agent. Toxicity was recorded in terms of mortality, hatching delay, phenotypic defects and metal accumulation. The addition of Ag-NP resulted in a concentration-dependant increase in mortality rate. Both Ag-NP and Pt-NP induced hatching delays, as well as a concentration dependant drop in heart rate, touch response and axis curvatures. Ag-NP also induced other significant phenotypic changes including pericardial effusion, abnormal cardiac morphology, circulatory defects and absence or malformation of the eyes. In contrast, Au-NP did not show any indication of toxicity. Uptake and accumulation of nanoparticles in embryos was confirmed by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), which revealed detectable levels in embryos within 72 hpf. Ag-NP and Au-NP were taken up by the embryos in relatively equal amounts whereas lower Pt concentrations were observed in embryos exposed to Pt-NP. This was probably due to the small size of the Pt nanoparticles compared to Ag-NP and Au-NP, thus resulting in fewer metal atoms being retained in the embryos. Among the nanoparticles studied, Ag-NPs were found to be the most toxic and Au-NPs the non-toxic. The toxic effects exhibited by the zebrafish embryos as a consequence of nanoparticle exposure, accompanied by the accumulation of metals inside the body calls for urgent further investigations in this field.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center