Fate and effects of silver nanoparticles on early life-stage development of zebrafish (Danio rerio) in comparison to silver nitrate

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Jan 1;610-611:972-982. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.115. Epub 2017 Aug 20.


The use of silver nanomaterials in everyday products, such as cosmetics, textiles, certain types of packaging, etc. is increasing, leading to their release into the environment, including aquatic ecosystems. This last point initiated this investigation on the toxicological effects of Ag nanoparticles (Ag NPs) in the aquatic model organism Danio rerio. For this purpose, zebrafish larvae were exposed to 20nm bare Ag NPs at different concentrations and AgNO3, used as a positive control for Ag+ ions toxicity, at the beginning of their foraging behaviour to determine adverse effects on fitness parameters. We used secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to determine the localization of Ag and transcriptomics (microarray) to determine the toxicity at the level of gene expression in fish larvae. Exposure to Ag NPs did not result in adverse effects on survival and growth of the fish. However, SIMS analysis showed that Ag NPs mainly concentrate around liver blood vessels and in the interstitial tissue between the intestine and the liver. Gene expression profiles revealed that AgNO3 and Ag NPs impacted common pathways, suggesting similar targets, such as the phototransduction system. However, the Ag NPs showed a broader set of genes impacted following the exposure, including the circadian clock regulation and the photoreception, suggesting specific particle-related effects in addition to those induced by ions.

Keywords: Danio rerio; Silver ions; Silver localization; Silver nanoparticles; Transcriptomics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Metal Nanoparticles / toxicity*
  • Silver / toxicity*
  • Silver Nitrate / toxicity*
  • Transcriptome
  • Zebrafish*


  • Silver
  • Silver Nitrate