Graphene has the potential to make a very significant impact on society, with important applications in the biomedical field. The possibility to engineer graphene-based medical devices at the neuronal interface is of particular interest, making it imperative to determine the biocompatibility of graphene materials with neuronal cells. Here we conducted a comprehensive analysis of the effects of chronic and acute exposure of rat primary cortical neurons to few-layer pristine graphene (GR) and monolayer graphene oxide (GO) flakes. By combining a range of cell biology, microscopy, electrophysiology, and "omics" approaches we characterized the graphene-neuron interaction from the first steps of membrane contact and internalization to the long-term effects on cell viability, synaptic transmission, and cell metabolism. GR/GO flakes are found in contact with the neuronal membrane, free in the cytoplasm, and internalized through the endolysosomal pathway, with no significant impact on neuron viability. However, GO exposure selectively caused the inhibition of excitatory transmission, paralleled by a reduction in the number of excitatory synaptic contacts, and a concomitant enhancement of the inhibitory activity. This was accompanied by induction of autophagy, altered Ca2+ dynamics, and a downregulation of some of the main players in the regulation of Ca2+ homeostasis in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Our results show that, although graphene exposure does not impact neuron viability, it does nevertheless have important effects on neuronal transmission and network functionality, thus warranting caution when planning to employ this material for neurobiological applications.

Graphene Oxide Nanosheets Disrupt Lipid Composition, Ca2+ Homeostasis, and Synaptic Transmission in Primary Cortical Neurons

CESCA, FABRIZIA;BENFENATI, FABIO
2016

Abstract

Graphene has the potential to make a very significant impact on society, with important applications in the biomedical field. The possibility to engineer graphene-based medical devices at the neuronal interface is of particular interest, making it imperative to determine the biocompatibility of graphene materials with neuronal cells. Here we conducted a comprehensive analysis of the effects of chronic and acute exposure of rat primary cortical neurons to few-layer pristine graphene (GR) and monolayer graphene oxide (GO) flakes. By combining a range of cell biology, microscopy, electrophysiology, and "omics" approaches we characterized the graphene-neuron interaction from the first steps of membrane contact and internalization to the long-term effects on cell viability, synaptic transmission, and cell metabolism. GR/GO flakes are found in contact with the neuronal membrane, free in the cytoplasm, and internalized through the endolysosomal pathway, with no significant impact on neuron viability. However, GO exposure selectively caused the inhibition of excitatory transmission, paralleled by a reduction in the number of excitatory synaptic contacts, and a concomitant enhancement of the inhibitory activity. This was accompanied by induction of autophagy, altered Ca2+ dynamics, and a downregulation of some of the main players in the regulation of Ca2+ homeostasis in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Our results show that, although graphene exposure does not impact neuron viability, it does nevertheless have important effects on neuronal transmission and network functionality, thus warranting caution when planning to employ this material for neurobiological applications.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/841164
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