Graphene oxide and rGO microparticles not toxic to mouse lung cells

Recent research showed that graphene (reduced graphene oxide, rGO) and graphene oxide (GO) particles larger than 1 micron in size are not cytotoxic or genotoxic to mouse lung cells. The study, performed using Graphenea graphene and involving the company's scientists, tested GO and rGO toxicity epithelial FE1 cells in vitro. GO and rGO have potential uses in biomedical applications, for example in biosensors, as a substrate in mass spectroscopy and for cell growth, and as drug delivery carriers.

Toxicity of nanoparticles (NP) is an important topic, due to the growing prevalence of NPs in research and production. Because of the multitude of compositions, shapes, and sizes of NPs, toxicity is an issue that needs to be addressed to each type of NP separately.

Figure: Morphology of GO and rGO (Wiley).


The first step in toxicity research always takes place “in vitro”, where cells are exposed to the potentially harmful agent and later analyzed for damage. The latest research, involving eight institutions from Denmark, France, and Spain, concluded that few layered GO and rGO with lateral size above 1 micrometer were not cytotoxic or genotoxic to FE1 mouse epithelial cells at concentrations up to 200 micrograms/ml. Mouse lung cells are commonly used in the first steps of toxicity studies. Although our study shows that no DNA strand breaks occur in cells due to exposure to GO and rGO particles of this size, earlier studies reveal that smaller particles, i.e. GO nanoparticles with sizes smaller than 500 nm, do cause DNA strand breaks. Carbon black has also been shown to be toxic and possibly carcinogenic to humans.

The research was published in the journal Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis.