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Impaired Liver Size and Compromised Neurobehavioral Activity are Elicited by Chitosan Nanoparticles in the Zebrafish Embryo Model

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha 2713, Qatar
Department of Biomedical Science, College of Health Sciences, Qatar University, Doha 2713, Qatar
Biomedical Research Center, Qatar University, Doha 2713, Qatar
Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar Foundation, Doha 2713, Qatar
Department of Public Health, Qatar University, Doha 2713, Qatar
ZeClinics SL, PRBB (Barcelona Biomedical Research Park), 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sassari, 07100 Sassari, Italy
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(1), 122;
Received: 21 December 2018 / Revised: 8 January 2019 / Accepted: 15 January 2019 / Published: 19 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomedical Applications of Nanotechnology)
PDF [2875 KB, uploaded 23 January 2019]


The use of chitosan nanoparticles (ChNPs) in various biological and environmental applications is attracting great interest. However, potential side effects related to ChNP toxicity remain the major limitation hampering their wide application. For the first time, we investigate the potential organ-specific (cardiac, hepatic, and neuromuscular) toxicity of ChNPs (size 100–150 nm) using the zebrafish embryo model. Our data highlight the absence of both acute and teratogenic toxic effects of ChNPs (~100% survival rate) even at the higher concentration employed (200 mg/L). Although no single sign of cardiotoxicity was observed upon exposure to 200 mg/L of ChNPs, as judged by heartbeat rate, the corrected QT interval (QTc, which measures the time between the start of the Q wave and the end of the T wave in the heart's electrical cycle), maximum cardiac arrest, and ejection fraction assays, the same dosage elicited the impairment of both liver size (decreased liver size, but without steatosis and lipid yolk retention) and neurobehavioral activity (increased movement under different light conditions). Although the observed toxic effect failed to affect embryo survival, whether a prolonged ChNP treatment may induce other potentially harmful effects remains to be elucidated. By reporting new insights on their organ-specific toxicity, our results add novel and useful information into the available data concerning the in vivo effect of ChNPs. View Full-Text
Keywords: zebrafish; chitosan; nanoparticles; organs specific toxicity zebrafish; chitosan; nanoparticles; organs specific toxicity

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Abou-Saleh, H.; Younes, N.; Rasool, K.; Younis, M.H.; Prieto, R.M.; Yassine, H.M.; Mahmoud, K.A.; Pintus, G.; Nasrallah, G.K. Impaired Liver Size and Compromised Neurobehavioral Activity are Elicited by Chitosan Nanoparticles in the Zebrafish Embryo Model. Nanomaterials 2019, 9, 122.

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