The effect of silver nanoparticles and silver ions on mammalian and plant cells in vitro

Food Chem Toxicol. 2016 Oct;96:50-61. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2016.07.015. Epub 2016 Jul 22.


Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are the most frequently applied nanomaterials. In our experiments, we tested AgNPs (size 27 nm) manufactured by the Tollens process. Physico-chemical methods (TEM, DLS, AFM and spectrophotometry) were used for characterization and imaging of AgNPs. The effects of AgNPs and Ag(+) were studied in two experimental models (plant and mammalian cells). Human keratinocytes (SVK14) and mouse fibroblasts (NIH3T3) cell lines were selected to evaluate the cytotoxicity and genotoxicity effect on mammalian cells. Higher sensitivity to AgNPs and Ag(+) was observed in NIH3T3 than in SVK14 cells. AgNPs accumulated in the nucleus of NIH3T3 cells, caused DNA damage and increased the number of apoptotic and necrotic cells. Three genotypes of Solanum spp. (S. lycopersicum cv. Amateur, S. chmielewskii, S. habrochaites) were selected to test the toxicity of AgNPs and Ag(+) on the plant cells. The highest values of peroxidase activity and lipid peroxidation were recorded after the treatment of S. habrochaites genotype with AgNPs. Increased ROS levels were likely the reason for observed damaged membranes in S. habrochaites. We found that the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of AgNPs depend not only on the characteristics of nanoparticles, but also on the type of cells that are treated with AgNPs.

Keywords: Genotoxicity; In vitro cytotoxicity; Mammalian cell; Silver ions; Silver nanoparticles; Solanum spp..

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA Damage / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / cytology*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / drug effects
  • Metal Nanoparticles / administration & dosage*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Silver / chemistry
  • Silver / pharmacology*
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Silver