Metal nanoparticles in the presence of lipopolysaccharides trigger the onset of metal allergy in mice

Nat Nanotechnol. 2016 Sep;11(9):808-16. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2016.88. Epub 2016 May 30.


Many people suffer from metal allergy, and the recently demonstrated presence of naturally occurring metal nanoparticles in our environment could present a new candidate for inducing metal allergy. Here, we show that mice pretreated with silver nanoparticles (nAg) and lipopolysaccharides, but not with the silver ions that are thought to cause allergies, developed allergic inflammation in response to the silver. nAg-induced acquired immune responses depended on CD4(+) T cells and elicited IL-17A-mediated inflammation, similar to that observed in human metal allergy. Nickel nanoparticles also caused sensitization in the mice, whereas gold and silica nanoparticles, which are minimally ionizable, did not. Quantitative analysis of the silver distribution suggested that small nAg (≤10 nm) transferred to the draining lymph node and released ions more readily than large nAg (>10 nm). These results suggest that metal nanoparticles served as ion carriers to enable metal sensitization. Our data demonstrate a potentially new trigger for metal allergy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drug Hypersensitivity*
  • Ear / diagnostic imaging
  • Ear / pathology
  • Female
  • Inflammation / chemically induced*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity*
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Metal Nanoparticles / toxicity*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, SCID
  • Particle Size
  • Silver / chemistry
  • Silver / toxicity*
  • T-Lymphocytes


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Silver