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Burns. 2004 Mar;30(2):140-7.

In vitro cytotoxity of silver: implication for clinical wound care.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong.


In this study, we look at the cytotoxic effects of silver on keratinocytes and fibroblasts. We have assessed the viability of monolayer cultures using the MTT and BrdU assays. The composition of the culture medium and also the culture technique were modified to assess the effects of culture 'environment' on the susceptibility of the cells to the toxic action of silver. Further in vitro, experiments were performed using tissue culture models to allow cellular behavior in three dimensional planes which more closely simulated in vivo behavior. The silver source was both silver released from silver nitrate solution but also nanocrystalline silver released from a commercially available dressing. The results show that silver is highly toxic to both keratinocytes and fibroblasts in monolayer culture. When using optimized and individualized culture the fibroblasts appear to be more sensitive to silver than keratinocytes. However, when both cell types were grown in the same medium their viability was the same. Using tissue culture models again indicated an 'environmental effect' with decreased sensitivity of the cells to the cytotoxic effects of the silver. Nevertheless in these studies the toxic dose of skin cells ranging from 7 x 10(-4) to 55 x 10(-4)% was similar to that of bacteria. These results suggest that consideration of the cytotoxic effects of silver and silver-based products should be taken when deciding on dressings for specific wound care strategies. This is important when using keratinocyte culture, in situ, which is playing an increasing role in contemporary wound and burn care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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