The increasing use of products derived from nanotechnology has raised concern about their potential toxicity to aquatic life. This study sought to examine the comparative immunotoxicity of capped cadmium sulphide/cadmium telluride (CdS/CdTe) quantum dots (QDs) and possible impact of particle/aggregate size on two bivalves (Mytilus edulis and Elliptio complanata) and a fish (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The QDs were dispersed in sterile water and fractionated using a series of micro/ultrafiltration membranes of decreasing pore size: 450 nm, 100 nm, 50 nm, 25 nm, 100 kDa (6.8 nm), 30 kDa (4.6 nm), 10 kDa (3.2 nm) and 1 kDa (1.5 nm). The total concentrations of cadmium and tellurium were determined for the filtered material and for that retained on the filters (retentate). The immunotoxicity was determined by measuring cell viability and phagocytosis. Results revealed that nanoparticles retained on the ultrafilters had a higher Cd/Te ratio compared to the permeate fraction (ratio of 5 and 2 respectively) which could indicate that the CdS core was not associated with the permeable fraction of Cd. Our results demonstrate that the toxicity of CdS/CdTe QDs was concentration and size dependent. Large CdS/CdTe QD aggregates (25 nm < size < 100 nm) reduced phagocytosis more than did smaller nanoparticles (<25 nm). Moreover, our results revealed that the different species responded differently to these fractions. Mytilus edulis hemocytes were less sensitive to CdS/CdTe QDs than the Oncorhynchus mykiss macrophage and Elliptio complanata hemocytes.
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