Heterogeneous oxidization of graphene nanosheets damages membrane

  • QianChun Wang
  • XiaoBo Zhai
  • Michael Crowe
  • Lu Gou
  • YinFeng Li
  • DeChang LiEmail author
  • Lei ZhangEmail author
  • JiaJie DiaoEmail author
  • BaoHua JiEmail author


Graphene-based materials exhibit unique properties that have been sought to utilize for various potential applications. Many studies suggest that graphene-based materials can be cytotoxic, which may be attributed to destructive effects on cell membranes. However, there still are conflicting results regarding interactions between graphene-based materials and lipid membranes. Here, through cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) and dye-leakage experiments along with in silico methods, we found that graphene oxide nanosheets induce significant membrane damage, while the effect of pristine graphene is negligible. We revealed the importance of heterogeneous oxidization of graphene-based nanosheets in damaging vesicle membranes. Moreover, that not only the oxidization degree but also the oxidization loci and membrane tension play important roles in the cytotoxicity of the graphene-based nanosheets.


graphene graphene oxide heterogeneous oxidization cytotoxicity lipid membrane 

Supplementary material

11433_2018_9317_MOESM1_ESM.docx (11.8 mb)
Heterogeneous oxidization of graphene nanosheets damages membrane


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomechanics and Biomaterials Laboratory, Department of Applied MechanicsBeijing Institute of TechnologyBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of ScienceXi’an University of Science and TechnologyXi’anChina
  3. 3.Department of Cancer BiologyUniversity of Cincinnati College of MedicineCincinnatiUSA
  4. 4.MOE Key Laboratory for Nonequilibrium Synthesis and Modulation of Condensed Matter, School of ScienceXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  5. 5.Department of Engineering Mechanics, School of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Civil Engineering, and Key Laboratory of HydrodynamicsShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  6. 6.Institute of Applied Mechanics, Department of Engineering MechanicsZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

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