The role of size, charge, and cholesterol of cell membrane models in interactions with graphene oxide

Shaanan Sack, Ben Zucker, Yinon Yecheskel, Ines Zucker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growing in manufacturing and applications of graphene oxide (GO), a two-dimensional nanomaterial, highlights the need for a better understanding of its environmental impact and toxicity. This work investigates the interaction of GO with cell membrane models as an indication for GO's potential harmfulness. A wide range of biologically-relevant membrane parameters (size, charge and, cholesterol content) and simple optical techniques were used to evaluate the outcome of interactions of vesicular cell membrane models with GO. Loss of membrane integrity was found to be positively correlated with electrostatic attraction and negatively correlated with cholesterol content. The size of vesicle-GO aggregates increased as a function of initial vesicle size, while cholesterol content was found to have a negligible effect on aggregation. Interestingly, charged vesicles reduced vesicle-GO aggregate size either by electrostatic repulsion of negatively charge vesicles or by GO folding following attachment of positively charge vesicles. Overall, by examining how key biologically-relevant parameters of membrane models affect interactions with GO, we have augmented the understanding of the potential threats of GO towards biological cell and to the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128661
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2022


  • Aggregation
  • Cell membrane models
  • Fluorescent probes
  • Graphene oxide
  • Membrane integrity


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