Effects of Green Silver Nanoparticles on Apoptosis and Oxidative Stress in Normal and Cancerous Human Hepatic Cells in vitro

Int J Nanomedicine. 2020 Mar 9;15:1537-1548. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S239861. eCollection 2020.


Introduction: Extensive use of metallic nanomaterials in different areas of agriculture and commercial products induce significant harmful effects on human health and the environment. In the current study, we synthesized an eco-friendly approach silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) using root extracts of Beta vulgaris L.

Methods: The synthesized green silver nanoparticles (gAgNPs) were characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and high-resolution transmission electron microscope (HR-TEM). The gAgNPs had a round shape and the mean size was 20-50 nm. The cytotoxic effects of gAgNPs were determined in human hepatic normal (CHANG) and cancer (HUH-7) cells by using tetrazolium salt (MTT) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) assays for 24 h.

Results and discussion: It was clear from the observations of this experiment that higher concentrations of gAgNPs reduce cell viability. The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was evaluated by using DCFDA. The gAgNPs induced more ROS in the HuH-7 cells than in the CHANG cells. The fragmentation of DNA was evaluated by alkaline single-cell gel electrophoresis and the maximum DNA strand breakage was found at a higher concentration exposure of gAgNPs for 24 h. It is important to notice that the HuH-7 cells showed an increased sensitivity to gAgNPs than the CHANG cells. The apoptotic and necrotic effects of gAgNPs on both the cells were evaluated using annexin-V-FITC and propidium iodide staining. An increased count of apoptotic and necrotic cells was found following a higher concentration exposure of gAgNPs. The apoptotic protein expression in these cells due to gAgNPs exposure was determined using immunoblotting techniques and the level of Bcl2 was decreased. However, the expression of BAX and protein was increased in both cells.

Conclusion: Therefore, it can be concluded that higher concentrations of gAgNPs may induce significant cytotoxicity and cause DNA damage and apoptosis.

Keywords: CHANG and HuH-7 cells; apoptosis; cytotoxicity; genotoxicity; green silver nanoparticles.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Beta vulgaris / chemistry
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • Green Chemistry Technology
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Metal Nanoparticles / administration & dosage
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Particle Size
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Silver / chemistry
  • Silver / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Silver