Toxicity of zinc oxide nanoparticles to zebrafish embryo: A physicochemical study of toxicity mechanism

Wei Bai, Zhiyong Zhang, Wenjing Tian, Xiao He, Yuhui Ma, Yuliang Zhao, Zhifang Chai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

372 Scopus citations


The biological impact of engineered nanomaterials released into the aquatic environment is a major concern. In this work, the properties of ZnO nanoparticles (nano-ZnO, 30 nm) were characterized in a water suspension (E3 medium), and a zebrafish 96-h post fertilization (hpf) embryo-larval test was performed to assess the toxicity of nano-ZnO suspension. Nano-ZnO was found to readily form aggregates with different sizes; small aggregates (142.4-517.7 nm) were still suspended in E3 medium, but large aggregates (>1 μm) quickly deposited on the bottom of 24-well plates; nano-ZnO was partially dissolved to Zn species (Zn(dis)) in E3 medium. In the nano-ZnO suspension, small aggregates, Zn(dis), and large aggregates might jointly exert influence on the development of zebrafish embryos. The embryo toxicity test revealed that nano-ZnO killed zebrafish embryos (50 and 100 mg/L), retarded the embryo hatching (1-25 mg/L), reduced the bodylength of larvae, and caused tail malformation after the 96 hpf exposure. Zn(dis) only partially contributed to the toxicity of nano-ZnO. This research highlights the need to further investigate the ecotoxicity of nano-ZnO in the water environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1645-1654
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Aggregate
  • EHS
  • Environment
  • Solubility
  • Toxicity
  • Zebrafish embryo
  • ZnO nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Bioengineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Toxicity of zinc oxide nanoparticles to zebrafish embryo: A physicochemical study of toxicity mechanism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this