Synthesis of Co3O4 nanoparticles with block and sphere morphology, and investigation into the influence of morphology on biological toxicity

Venkataramanan Raman, Shruthi Suresh, Philip Anthony Savarimuthu, Thiagarajan Raman*, Aristides Michael Tsatsakis, Kiril Sergeevich Golokhvast, Vinod Kumar Vadivel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present study, cobalt oxide (Co3O4) magnetic nanoparticles with block and sphere morphologies were synthesized using various surfactants, and the toxicity of the particles was analyzed by monitoring biomarkers of nanoparticle toxicity in zebrafish. The use of tartarate as a surfactant produced highly crystalline blocks of Co3O4 nanoparticles with pores on the sides, whereas citrate lead to the formation of nanoparticles with a spherical morphology. Co3O4 structure, crystallinity, size and morphology were studied using X ray diffractogram and field emission scanning electron microscopy. Following an increase in nanoparticle concentration from 1 to 200 ppm, there was a corresponding increase in nitric oxide (NO) generation, induced by both types of nanoparticles [Co3O4 NP B (block), r=0.953; Co3O4 NP S (sphere), r=1.140]. Comparative analyses indicated that both types of nanoparticle produced significant stimulation at ≥5 ppm (P<0.05) compared with a control. Upon analyzing the effect of nanoparticle morphology on NO generation, it was observed that Co3O4 NP S was more effective compared with Co3O4 NP B (5 and 100 ppm, P<0.05; 200 ppm, P<0.01). Exposure to both types of nanoparticles produced reduction in liver glutathione (GSH) activity with corresponding increase in dose (Co3O4 NP B, r= 0.359; Co3O4 NP S, r= 0.429). However, subsequent analyses indicated that Co3O4 NP B was more potent in inhibiting liver GSH activity compared with Co3O4 NP S. Co3O4 NP B proved to be toxic at 5 ppm (P<0.05) and GSH activity was almost completely inhibited at 200 ppm. A similar toxicity was observed with both types of Co3O4 NPs against brain levels of acetylcholinesterase (AChE; Co3O4 NP B, r= 0.180; Co3O4 NP S, r= 0.230), indicating the ability of synthesized Co3O4 NPs to cross the blood brain barrier and produce neuronal toxicity. Co3O4 NP B showed increased inhibition of brain AChE activity compared with Co3O4 NP S (1,5, and 10 ppm, P<0.05; 50, 100 and 200 ppm, P<0.01). These results suggested that the morphology of nanoparticle and surface area contribute to toxicity, which may have implications for their biological application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-560
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental and Therapeutic Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cobalt nanoparticles
  • Morphology
  • Nanotoxicology
  • Oxidative stress
  • Toxicology
  • Zebrafish


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