Graphene oxide (GO) has been a focus of research in the fields of electronics, energy, and biomedicine, including drug delivery. Thus, single- and multi-layered GO (SLGO and MLGO) have been produced and investigated. However, little information on their toxicity and biocompatibility is available. In the present study, we performed a comprehensive study of the size- and dose-dependent toxicity of GOs in the presence or absence of Pluronic F-127 on THP-1 cells by examining their viability, membrane integrity, levels of cytokine and ROS production, phagocytosis, and cytometric apoptosis. Moreover, as an extended study, a toxicity evaluation in the acute and chronic phases was performed in mice via intravenous injection of the materials. GOs exhibited dose- and size-dependent toxicity. Interestingly, SLGO induced ROS production to a lesser extent than MLGO. Cytometric analysis indicated that SLGO induced necrosis and apoptosis to a lesser degree than MLGO. In addition, cell damage and IL-1β production were influenced by phagocytosis. A histological animal study revealed that GOs of various sizes induced acute and chronic damage to the lung and kidney in the presence or absence of Pluronic F-127. These results will facilitate studies of GO prior to its biomedical application.
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