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Toxicol Sci. 2009 Apr;108(2):452-61. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfn246. Epub 2008 Nov 25.

Subchronic inhalation toxicity of silver nanoparticles.

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Korea Environment & Merchandise Testing Institute, Incheon, Korea.


The subchronic inhalation toxicity of silver nanoparticles was studied in Sprague-Dawley rats. Eight-week-old rats, weighing approximately 253.2 g (males) and 162.6 g (females), were divided into four groups (10 rats in each group): fresh-air control, low dose (0.6 x 10(6) particle/cm(3), 49 microg/m(3)), middle dose (1.4 x 10(6) particle/cm(3), 133 microg/m(3)), and high dose (3.0 x 10(6) particle/cm(3), 515 microg/m(3)). The animals were exposed to silver nanoparticles (average diameter 18-19 nm) for 6 h/day, 5 days/week, for 13 weeks in a whole-body inhalation chamber. In addition to mortality and clinical observations, body weight, food consumption, and pulmonary function tests were recorded weekly. At the end of the study, the rats were subjected to a full necropsy, blood samples were collected for hematology and clinical chemistry tests, and the organ weights were measured. Bile-duct hyperplasia in the liver increased dose dependently in both the male and female rats. Histopathological examinations indicated dose-dependent increases in lesions related to silver nanoparticle exposure, including mixed inflammatory cell infiltrate, chronic alveolar inflammation, and small granulomatous lesions. Target organs for silver nanoparticles were considered to be the lungs and liver in the male and female rats. No observable adverse effect level of 100 microg/m(3) is suggested from the experiments.

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