Ecotoxicology (London, England)

Cellular and molecular responses of adult zebrafish after exposure to CuO nanoparticles or ionic copper.

PMID 29150731


Due to their antimicrobial, electrical and magnetic properties, copper nanoparticles (NPs) are suitable for a vast array of applications. Copper can be toxic to biota, making it necessary to assess the potential hazard of copper nanomaterials. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) were exposed to 10 µg Cu/L of CuO NPs of ≈100 nm (CuO-poly) or ionic copper to compare the effects provoked after 3 and 21 days of exposure and at 6 months post-exposure (mpe). At 21 days, significant copper accumulation was only detected in fish exposed to ionic copper. Exposure to both copper forms caused histopathological alterations that could reduce gill functionality, more markedly in the case of ionic copper. Nevertheless, at 6 mpe higher prevalences of gill lesions were detected in fish previously exposed to CuO-poly NPs. No relevant histological alterations were detected in liver, but the lysosomal membrane stability test showed significantly impaired general health status after exposure to both metal forms that lasted up to 6 mpe. 69 transcripts appeared regulated after 3 days of exposure to CuO-poly NPs, suggesting that NPs could produce oxidative stress and reduce metabolism and transport processes. Thirty transcripts were regulated after 21 days of exposure to ionic copper, indicating possible DNA damage. Genes of the circadian clock were identified as the key genes involved in time-dependent differences between the two copper forms. In conclusion, each copper form showed a distinct pattern of liver transcriptome regulation, but both caused gill histopathological alterations and long lasting impaired health status in adult zebrafish.