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Nanotoxicology. 2016 Aug;10(6):671-9. doi: 10.3109/17435390.2015.1107145. Epub 2015 Dec 8.

Developmental effects of two different copper oxide nanomaterials in sea urchin (Lytechinus pictus) embryos.

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a Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California , Davis , Bodega Bay, CA , USA .
b Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California , Santa Barbara , CA , USA .
c Foundation Institute of Materials Science (IWT), Department of Production Engineering , University of Bremen , Bremen , Germany , and.
d Department of Environmental Toxicology and Nutrition , University of California , Davis , CA , USA.


Copper oxide nanomaterials (nano-CuOs) are widely used and can be inadvertently introduced into estuarine and marine environments. We analyzed the effects of different nano-CuOs (a synthesized and a less-pure commercial form), as well as ionic copper (CuSO4) on embryo development in the white sea urchin, a well-known marine model. After 96 h of development with both nano-CuO exposures, we did not detect significant oxidative damage to proteins but did detect decreases in total antioxidant capacity. We show that the physicochemical characteristics of the two nano-CuOs play an essential role in their toxicities. Both nano-CuOs were internalized by embryos and their differential dissolution was the most important toxicological parameter. The synthesized nano-CuO showed greater toxicity (EC50 = 450 ppb of copper) and had increased dissolution (2.5% by weight over 96 h) as compared with the less-pure commercial nano-CuO (EC50 = 5395 ppb of copper, 0.73% dissolution by weight over 96 h). Copper caused specific developmental abnormalities in sea urchin embryos including disruption of the aboral-oral axis as a result in changes to the redox environment caused by dissolution of internalized nano-CuO. Abnormal skeleton formation also occurred.


Embryonic axis disruption; nanoparticle dissolution; oxidative stress; sea urchin embryo development

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