Nanoscale, 2020, 12 (32), 16730-16737

Nitric oxide-dependent biodegradation of graphene oxide reduces inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract

Guotao Peng, Marcelo F. Montenegro, Chifundo N. M. Ntola, Sandra Vranic, Kostas Kostarelos, Carmen Vogt, Muhammet S. Toprak, Tianbo Duan, Klaus Leifer, Lars Bräutigam, Jon O. Lundberg, Bengt Fadeel*

Understanding the biological fate of graphene-based materials such as graphene oxide (GO) is crucial to assess adverse effects following intentional or inadvertent exposure. Here we provide first evidence of biodegradation of GO in the gastrointestinal tract using zebrafish as a model. Raman mapping was deployed to assess biodegradation. The degradation was blocked upon knockdown of nos2a encoding the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) or by pharmacological inhibition of NOS using L-NAME, demonstrating that the process was nitric oxide (NO)-dependent. NO-dependent degradation of GO was further confirmed in vitro by combining a superoxide-generating system, xanthine/xanthine oxidase (X/XO), with an NO donor (PAPA NONOate), or by simultaneously producing superoxide and NO by decomposition of SIN-1. Finally, by using the transgenic strain Tg(mpx:eGFP) to visualize the movement of neutrophils, we could show that inhibition of the degradation of GO resulted in increased neutrophil infiltration into the gastrointestinal tract, indicative of inflammation.