An Increase in Membrane Cholesterol by Graphene Oxide Disrupts Calcium Homeostasis in Primary Astrocytes

Mattia Bramini, Martina Chiacchiaretta, Andrea Armirotti, Anna Rocchi, Deepali D. Kale, Cristina Martin, Ester Vázquez, Tiziano Bandiera, Stefano Ferroni, Fabrizia Cesca, Fabio Benfenati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of graphene nanomaterials (GNMs) for biomedical applications targeted to the central nervous system is exponentially increasing, although precise information on their effects on brain cells is lacking. In this work, the molecular changes induced in cortical astrocytes by few-layer graphene (FLG) and graphene oxide (GO) flakes are addressed. The results show that exposure to FLG/GO does not affect cell viability or proliferation. However, proteomic and lipidomic analyses unveil alterations in several cellular processes, including intracellular Ca 2+ ([Ca 2+ ] i ) homeostasis and cholesterol metabolism, which are particularly intense in cells exposed to GO. Indeed, GO exposure impairs spontaneous and evoked astrocyte [Ca 2+ ] i signals and induces a marked increase in membrane cholesterol levels. Importantly, cholesterol depletion fully rescues [Ca 2+ ] i dynamics in GO-treated cells, indicating a causal relationship between these GO-mediated effects. The results indicate that exposure to GNMs alters intracellular signaling in astrocytes and may impact astrocyte–neuron interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1900147
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Apr 12 2019


  • astrocytes
  • calcium
  • cholesterol
  • graphene
  • proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'An Increase in Membrane Cholesterol by Graphene Oxide Disrupts Calcium Homeostasis in Primary Astrocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this