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Table 1 Toxicity of GFNs in organs

From: Toxicity of graphene-family nanoparticles: a general review of the origins and mechanisms

Graphene family nanomaterials

Physiochemial properties and functionalization


Dose and time incubation



Nanoscale graphene oxide (NGO)

No information

C57BL/6 mice

0, 1, 5, 10 mg/kg, intratracheal instillation

0 h, 24 h, 48 h, 72 h and 1 week

Result in acute lung injury (ALI) and chronic pulmonary fibrosis


Few layer graphene (FLG)

No information

ICR mice

0.1, or 1 mg/mL, oral gavage or intratracheal instillation 3 or 28 days

Intratracheally instilled FLG resulted in acute lung injury and pulmonary edema, FLG didn’t show detectable absorption through the gastrointestinal tract by oral gavage.


Graphene platelets (GPs)

No information


inhalation exposure, 1 day-6 weeks

GP caused acute inflammation in lung at 1 day, and alleviated inflammation in lung after 6 weeks


Graphene nanoplatelets (GPs)

Thickness of 10 nm

Size of 5–30 μm

Female C57BL/6 strain mice

50 μg per mouse, pharyngeal aspiration or intrapleural installation, 24 h- 7 days

Large GP were inflammogenic in both the lung and the pleural space



Thickness of 0.93 nm

Size of 150–250 nm

Sprague-Dawley rats

0.5 or 4 mg/m3, inhalation exposure, single 6 h

The single inhalation exposure to GO induce minimal toxic responses in rat lungs



Thickness of 0.9 nm

size of l-GO: 1–5 μm

size of s-GO:100–500 nm

Male ICR mice

1.0 mg/kg, intravenous injected, 24 h

Accumulated mainly in the liver and lungs



Thickness of < 4 nm

size of l-GO:237.9 ± 79.3 nm; size of s-GO: 54.9 ± 23.1 nm

Male and female ICR-strain mice

24 mg/kg, tail vein injected, 5 days

Didn’t effect pup numbers, sex ratio, weights, pup survival rates or pup growth, low toxicity for male reproduction



Thickness of ~1.0 nm

sizes of 10–800 nm

Kun Ming mice

1,10 mg/ kg, intravenous injection 14 days

Led to high accumulation, long-time retention, pulmonary edema and granuloma formation



Thickness of 1 nm

size of 10–800 nm

Male Kunming mice

5 mg/kg, tail intravenous injection

10 min-24 h

NGO-PEG alleviated acute tissue injuries, decreased the early weight loss






Thickness of 0.94,1.22, 4.43 and 5.66 nm,

size of 450, 25, 50 and 27 nm

Balb/c mice

4 mg/kg, intraperitoneal injection

1, 7 and 30 days

Accumulated in the reticuloendothelial (RES) system including liver and spleen over a long time



Graphene quantum dots


Thickness of GO, GQD: 0.5–1 nm

sizes of GO, GQD: 3–5 nm

Balb/c mice

20 mg/kg intravenous injection or intraperitoneal injection 14 days

GO appeared toxic and caused death

GQD revealed no accumulation in organs and caused low cytotoxicity


Purified graphene oxide (pGO)

Thickness of 1–2 nm,

lateral dimension of 100–500 nm

Female C57Bl/6 mice

50 μg/animal, intraperitoneal injection

24 h, 7 days,

Induced moderate inflammation and granuloma formation following



Thickness of 3.9 and 4.05 nm,

size of 350 nm and 2 μm

C57BL/6 male mice

Series concentrations, subcutaneous injection21 days

The micro-size of GO induced much stronger inflammation responses than the nanosized GO



Size of 1110 to 16 200 nm

C57BL/6 J mice

2 or 20 mg/kg, subcutaneous and intraperitoneal injection

Both GO and a reduction of GO result in immune cell infiltration, uptake, and clearance.


RGO-iron oxide nanoparticles (rGO-IONP)

Thickness of ˂10 nm

Size of 15.0 ± 2.0 nm

Female Balb/c mice

400 μg, subcutaneous injection,

RGO–IONP can effectively inactivate multiple-drug-resistant bacteria in subcutaneous abscesses




Thickness of 0.94, 1.22, 4.43 and 5.66 nm,

size of 450, 25, 50 and 27 nm

Female balb/c mice

100 mg/kg, Oral administration; 50 mg/kg, intraperitoneal injection, 1, 7 and 30 days

No obvious tissue uptake via oral administration, indicating the rather limited intestinal adsorption of those nanomaterials



sizes of small rGO: 87.97 ± 30.83,

sizes of large rGO:472.08 ± 249.17 nm

Male C57black/6 mice

60 mg/kg, oral gavage, 5 days

RGO affected general locomotor activity, balance, and neuromuscular coordination, but showed little change in exploratory, anxiety-like, or learning and memory behaviors.