Journal of Nanomaterials

Particle Size-Dependent Antibacterial Activity and Murine Cell Cytotoxicity Induced by Graphene Oxide Nanomaterials

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Recent studies have indicated that graphene and its derivative graphene oxide (GO) engage in a wide range of antibacterial activities with limited toxicity to human cells. Here, we systematically evaluate the dependence of GO toxicity on the size of the nanoparticles used in treatments: we compare the cytotoxic effects of graphene quantum dots (GQDs, <15 nm), small GOs (SGOs, 50-200 nm), and large GOs (LGOs, 0.5-3 μm). We synthesize the results of bacterial colony count assays and SEM-based observations of morphological changes to assess the antibacterial properties that these GOs bring into effect against E. coli. We also use Live/Dead assays and morphological analysis to investigate changes to mammalian (Murine macrophage-like Raw 264.7) cells induced by the presence of the various GO particle types. Our results demonstrate that LGOs, SGOs, and GQDs possess antibacterial activities and cause mammalian cell cytotoxicity at descending levels of potency. Placing our observations in the context of previous simulation results, we suggest that both the lateral size and surface area of GO particles contribute to cytotoxic effects. We hope that the size dependence elucidated here provides a useful schematic for tuning GO-cell interactions in biomedical applications.