Chemical and Colloidal Dynamics of MnO2 Nanosheets in Biological Media Relevant for Nanosafety Assessment

Evan P. Gray, Cynthia L. Browning, Charles A. Vaslet, Kyle D. Gion, Allen Green, Muchun Liu, Agnes B. Kane, Robert H. Hurt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Many layered crystal phases can be exfoliated or assembled into ultrathin 2D nanosheets with novel properties not achievable by particulate or fibrous nanoforms. Among these 2D materials are manganese dioxide (MnO2) nanosheets, which have applications in batteries, catalysts, and biomedical probes. A novel feature of MnO2 is its sensitivity to chemical reduction leading to dissolution and Mn2+ release. Biodissolution is critical for nanosafety assessment of 2D materials, but the timing and location of MnO2 biodissolution in environmental or occupational exposure scenarios are poorly understood. This work investigates the chemical and colloidal dynamics of MnO2 nanosheets in biological media for environmental and human health risk assessment. MnO2 nanosheets are insoluble in most aqueous phases, but react with strong and weak reducing agents in biological fluid environments. In vitro, reductive dissolution can be slow enough in cell culture media for MnO2 internalization by cells in the form of intact nanosheets, which localize in vacuoles, react to deplete intracellular glutathione, and induce cytotoxicity that is likely mediated by intracellular Mn2+ release. The results are used to classify MnO2 nanosheets within a new hazard screening framework for 2D materials, and the implications of MnO2 transformations for nanotoxicity testing and nanosafety assessment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000303
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • 2D materials
  • biodissolution
  • exposure
  • manganese dioxide
  • nanosafety


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