Sublethal effects of CuO nanoparticles on mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) Are modulated by environmental salinity

Fernando D. Villarreal, Gautom Kumar Das, Aamir Abid, Ian M. Kennedy, Dietmar Kültz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The increasing use of manufactured nanoparticles (NP) in different applications has triggered the need to understand their putative ecotoxicological effects in the environment. Copper oxide nanoparticles (CuO NP) are toxic, and induce oxidative stress and other pathophysiological conditions. The unique properties of NP can change depending on the characteristics of the media they are suspended in, altering the impact on their toxicity to aquatic organisms in different environments. Here, Mozambique tilapia (O. mossambicus) were exposed to flame synthesized CuO NP (0.5 and 5 mg·L-1) in two environmental contexts: (a) constant freshwater (FW) and (b) stepwise increase in environmental salinity (SW). Sublethal effects of CuO NP were monitored and used to dermine exposure endpoints. Fish exposed to 5 mg·L-1 CuO in SW showed an opercular ventilation rate increase, whereas fish exposed to 5 mg·L-1 in FW showed a milder response. Different effects of CuO NP on antioxidant enzyme activities, accumulation of transcripts for metal-responsive genes, GSH:GSSG ratio, and Cu content in fish gill and liver also demonstrate that additive osmotic stress modulates CuO NP toxicity. We conclude that the toxicity of CuO NP depends on the particular environmental context and that salinity is an important factor for modulating NP toxicity in fish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere88723
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 10 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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