The exponential growth of nanotechnology has led to the production of large quantities of nanomaterials for numerous industrial, technological, agricultural, environmental, food and many other applications. However, this huge production has raised growing concerns about the adverse effects that the release of these nanomaterials may have on the environment and on living organisms. Regarding the effects of QDs on aquatic organisms, existing data is scarce and often contradictory. Thus, more information is needed to understand the mechanisms associated with the potential toxicity of these nanomaterials in the aquatic environment. The toxicity of QDs (ZnS and CdS) was evaluated in the freshwater fish Danio rerio. The fishes were exposed for seven days to different concentrations of QDs (10, 100 and 1000 µg/L) individually and combined. Oxidative stress enzymes (catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione S-transferase), lipid peroxidation, HSP70 and total ubiquitin were assessed. In general, results suggest low to moderate toxicity as shown by the increase in catalase activity and lipid peroxidation levels. The QDs (ZnS and CdS) appear to cause more adverse effects singly than when tested combined. However, LPO results suggest that exposure to CdS singly caused more oxidative stress in zebrafish than ZnS or when the two QDs were tested combined. Levels of Zn and Cd measured in fish tissues indicate that both elements were bioaccumulated by fish and the concentrations increased in tissues according to the concentrations tested. The increase in HSP70 measured in fish exposed to 100 µg ZnS-QDs/L may be associated with high levels of Zn determined in fish tissues. No significant changes were detected for total ubiquitin. More experiments should be performed to fully understand the effects of QDs exposure to aquatic biota.

Original languageEnglish
Article number232
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • CdS
  • oxidative stress
  • quantum dots
  • toxicity
  • zebrafish
  • ZnS


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