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J Nanobiotechnology. 2010 Aug 18;8:19. doi: 10.1186/1477-3155-8-19.

Interaction of silver nanoparticles with Tacaribe virus.

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Applied Biotechnology Branch, Human Effectiveness Directorate, 711th Human Performance Wing, U,S, Air Force Research Laboratory, 2729 R Street, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, 45433-5707, USA.



Silver nanoparticles possess many unique properties that make them attractive for use in biological applications. Recently they received attention when it was shown that 10 nm silver nanoparticles were bactericidal, which is promising in light of the growing number of antibiotic resistant bacteria. An area that has been largely unexplored is the interaction of nanomaterials with viruses and the possible use of silver nanoparticles as an antiviral agent.


This research focuses on evaluating the interaction of silver nanoparticles with a New World arenavirus, Tacaribe virus, to determine if they influence viral replication. Surprisingly exposing the virus to silver nanoparticles prior to infection actually facilitated virus uptake into the host cells, but the silver-treated virus had a significant reduction in viral RNA production and progeny virus release, which indicates that silver nanoparticles are capable of inhibiting arenavirus infection in vitro. The inhibition of viral replication must occur during early replication since although pre-infection treatment with silver nanoparticles is very effective, the post-infection addition of silver nanoparticles is only effective if administered within the first 2-4 hours of virus replication.


Silver nanoparticles are capable of inhibiting a prototype arenavirus at non-toxic concentrations and effectively inhibit arenavirus replication when administered prior to viral infection or early after initial virus exposure. This suggests that the mode of action of viral neutralization by silver nanoparticles occurs during the early phases of viral replication.

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