The collection of intrinsic properties possessed by graphene family nanomaterials (GFNs) results in their continuous exploitation for biomedical applications. The materials biomedical potential has motivated an upsurge in green preparation routes for the production of graphene like materials with limited toxicity. A number of bio-friendly reducing agents have been utilized for the preparation of chemically reduced graphene oxide (GO), and their resulting cytotoxic effects examined. However, the toxicology effects of one of the first biomolecules implemented for the reduction of GO, ascorbic acid (AA) has yet to be investigated. Herein, the toxicity of three distinct GFNs; GO, hydrazine reduced GO (H.rGO) and AA.rGO, prepared through diverse chemical routes are studied, to demonstrate the cytotoxic activity of a green reducer, in comparison to an established reduction method using hydrazine hydrate. The variation in atomic structure of GO, H.rGO and AA.rGO resulting from different synthesis techniques demonstrates the dependence of toxicity on particle shape and size. All GFNs induced high levels of alveolar cell toxicity. Interaction of AA.rGO with the A549 human lung epithelial carcinoma cell line resulted in increased leakage of lactate dehydrogenase, indicative of diminished cell membrane integrity. The uncharacteristic shape of the AA.rGO may be responsible for this proliferated release of the essential protein. The presented data therefore demonstrates that modification of synthetic processes significantly alter the biological activities of GFNs.
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