Toxicity of copper oxide nanoparticles in the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis: a redox proteomic investigation

Wentao Hu, Sarah Culloty, Grainne Darmody, Sharon Lynch, John Davenport, Sonia Ramirez-Garcia, Kenneth A. Dawson, Julian Blasco, David Sheehan*, Iseult Lynch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)
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Relatively little is known about the fate and effects of nanomaterials even in relatively simple organisms such as Mytilus edulis. Here, copper oxide nanoparticles (CuO NP) are shown to induce dose-dependent toxic effects at the biochemical, physiological and tissue levels in the blue mussel. Stable CuO NP suspensions were sized by differential light scattering and nanoparticle tracking analysis to yield average particle diameters of approximately 100. nm. These were administered to M. edulis, at doses of 400, 700 and 1000. ppb. Ingested copper was predominantly located in the gill tissue with small amounts in digestive gland. Fifteen coomassie-stained spots were excised from two dimensional gel electrophoresis separations of gill tissue extacts and identified by peptide mass fingerprinting. These contained six unique proteins (alpha- and beta-tubulin, actin, tropomyosin, triosephosphate isomerase and Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase). Of these, two spots (actin and triosephosphate isomerase) showed decreased protein thiols while three (alpha-tubulin, tropomyosin and Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase) showed increased carbonylation which is indicative of protein oxidation of cytoskeleton and enzymes in response to CuO NP. The neutral red retention time (NRRT) assay revealed toxicity due to the CuO NPs which was comparable with toxic metal oxide nanoparticles such as chromium and cobalt. In contrast, non-toxic titanium and gold metal oxide nanoparticles gave no NRRT effects at similar NP concentrations. Histology revealed deposition of pigmented brown cells in response to CuO NP, located predominantly along the mantle and gill margin but also lining digestive tubules and some of the sinuses and distributed throughout the connective tissue and in the adductor muscle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-299
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Copper
  • Nanoparticles
  • Oxidative stress
  • Protein carbonyl
  • Protein thiols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry


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