Comparison of developmental toxicity of different surface modified CdSe/ZnS QDs in zebrafish embryos

Chengyong He , Naying Zheng , Jinhui Yan , Wang Qian , Chao Song , Zhenghong Zuo


Received March 23, 2020,Revised , Accepted July 19, 2020, Available online August 06, 2020

Volume 100,2021,Pages 240-249

Quantum dots (QDs) are new types of nanomaterials. Few studies have focused on the effect of different surface modified QDs on embryonic development. Herein, we compared the in vivo toxicity of CdSe/ZnS QDs with carboxyl (-COOH) and amino (-NH2) modification using zebrafish embryos. After exposure, the two CdSe/ZnS QDs decreased the survival rate, hatching rate, and embryo movement of zebrafish. Moreover, we found QDs attached to the embryo membrane before hatching and the eyes, yolk and heart after hatching. The attached amount of carboxyl QDs was more. Consistently, the Cd content in embryos and larvae was higher in carboxyl QD-treatment. We further observed that the two QDs caused zebrafish pericardial edema and cardiac dysfunction. In line with it, both carboxyl and amino QDs up-regulated the transcription levels of cardiac development-related genes, and the levels were higher in carboxyl QD-treated groups. Furthermore, the chelator of Cd2+ diethylene triamine pentacetate acid could partially rescued the developmental toxicity caused by the two types of QDs suggesting that both the nature of QDs and the release of Cd2+ contribute to the developmental toxicity. In conclusion, the two CdSe/ZnS QDs have developmental toxicity and affect the cardiac development, and the carboxyl QDs is more toxic possibly due to the higher affinity and more release to embryos and larvae. Our study provides new knowledge that the surface functional modification of QDs is critical on the development on aquatic species, which is beneficial to develop and applicate QDs more safely and environment-friendly.

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