Assessment of gold nanoparticle effects in a marine teleost (Sparus aurata) using molecular and biochemical biomarkers

M. Teles, C. Fierro-Castro, P. Na-Phatthalung, A. Tvarijonaviciute, T. Trindade, A. M.V.M. Soares, L. Tort, M. Oliveira

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38 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier B.V. Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) are increasingly employed in a variety of applications and are likely to be increasing in the environment, posing a potential emerging environmental threat. Information on possible hazardous effects of engineered nanoparticles is urgently required to ensure human and environmental safety and promote the safe use of novel nanotechnologies. Nevertheless, there is a lack of comprehensive knowledge on AuNP effects in marine species. The present study aimed to assess AuNP effects in a marine teleost, Sparus aurata, by combining endpoints at different biological levels (molecular and biochemical). For that purpose, fish were exposed via water for 96 h to 4, 80 and 1600 μg L−1of AuNP (∼40 nm) coated with citrate or polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP). Results revealed a significant impact of AuNP-PVP in the hepatic expression of antioxidant, immune and apoptosis related genes. Total oxidative status was increased in plasma after exposure to the lowest concentration of AuNP-PVP, although without altering the total antioxidant capacity. Furthermore, AuNP did not induce significant damage in the liver since the activity of neither hepatic indicator (aspartate aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase) increased. Overall, the present study demonstrated that AuNP, even with a biocompatible coating is able to alter oxidative status and expression of relevant target genes in marine fish. Another important finding is that effects are mainly induced by the lowest and intermediate concentrations of the PVP coated AuNP revealing the importance of different coatings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-135
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Biochemical
  • Fish
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Integrated biomarker response
  • Transcriptional levels


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