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Nanotoxicology. 2016 Nov;10(9):1329-40. doi: 10.1080/17435390.2016.1210692. Epub 2016 Jul 25.

Evaluation of the toxicity of graphene oxide exposure to the eye.

Wu W1,2, Yan L3, Wu Q1,2, Li Y1,2, Li Q1,2, Chen S1,2, Yang Y1,2, Gu Z3, Xu H1,2, Yin ZQ1,2.

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a Southwest Hospital/Southwest Eye Hospital, Third Military Medical University , Chongqing , China .
b Key Lab of Visual Damage and Regeneration & Restoration of Chongqing , Chongqing , China , and.
c Key Laboratory for Biomedical Effects of Nanomaterials and Nanosafety, Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing , China.


Graphene and its derivatives are the new carbon nanomaterials with the prospect for great applications in electronics, energy storage, biosensors and medicine. However, little is known about the toxicity of graphene or its derivatives in the case of occasional or repeated ocular exposure. We performed in vitro and in vivo studies to evaluate the toxicity of graphene oxide (GO) exposure to the eye. Primary human corneal epithelium cells (hCorECs) and human conjunctiva epithelium cells (hConECs) were exposed to GO (12.5-100 μg/mL). Acute GO exposure (2 h) did not induce cytotoxicity to hCorECs. However, short-term GO exposure (24 h) exerted significant cytotoxicity to hCorECs and hConECs with increased intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). Glutathione (GSH) reduced the GO-induced cytotoxicity. We further performed acute eye irritation tests in albino rabbits according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines, and the rabbits did not exhibit corneal opacity, conjunctival redness, abnormality of the iris, or chemosis at any time point after the instillation of 100 μg/mL of GO. However, 5-day repeated GO exposure (50 and 100 μg/mL) caused reversible mild corneal opacity, conjunctival redness and corneal epithelium damage to Sprague-Dawley rats, which was also alleviated by GSH. Therefore, our study suggests that GO-induced time- and dose-dependent cytotoxicity to hCorECs and hConECs via oxidative stress. Occasional GO exposure did not cause acute eye irritation; short-term repeated GO exposure generally resulted in reversible damage to the eye via oxidative stress, which may be alleviated by the antioxidant GSH.


Environmental toxicology; exposure; nanotoxicology; occupational health; toxicology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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