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Nanotoxicology. 2014 Aug;8(5):573-82. doi: 10.3109/17435390.2013.812258. Epub 2013 Jun 27.

In vitro toxicity assessment of silver nanoparticles in the presence of phenolic compounds--preventive agents against the harmful effect?

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Institute of Life Sciences & UCLouvain, Laboratory of Cellular, Nutritional and Toxicological Biochemistry , Louvain-la-Neuve , Belgium.


The increasing commercial use of silver nanoparticles (Ag-NPs) will inevitably lead to elevated silver exposure and thus to potential human health complications. In this study the acute toxicity of Ag-NPs <20 nm alone and upon co-administration with food matrix component phenolic compounds (PCs) on the cell-based models of the gastrointestinal tract was investigated. An improved co-culture model of Caco-2 and RajiB cells was applied for more precise in vitro simulation of the gastrointestinal tract. The involvement of two major factors contributing to the toxicity of Ag-NPs, i.e. the release of Ag(+) and the induction of oxidative stress, was investigated. Ag-NPs were cytotoxic for Caco-2 cells with an EC50 of ca. 40 µg/ml. Ag-NPs led to oxidative stress starting from ca. 45 µg/ml. The epithelial barrier integrity disruption by Ag-NPs on Caco-2 cell mono- and co-cultures was established by decreased transepithelial electrical resistances and increased passages of Lucifer Yellow, a paracellular marker. Immunofluorescence staining demonstrated that Ag-NPs affect occludin and zonula occludens 1 distributions, suggesting the opening of tight junctions. Ag(+), corresponding to the release from Ag-NPs, demonstrated a partial contribution in the toxic parameters, induced by Ag-NPs. Two PCs, quercetin and kaempferol, partially protected the Caco-2 cells from Ag-NP-induced toxicity and maintained the epithelial barrier integrity, disrupted by NPs. No protective effect was observed for resveratrol. The protective effect could be beneficial and decrease the potential toxicity of ingested Ag-NPs. However, the precise mechanisms of barrier-integrity-destabilising action of Ag-NPs/Ag(+) and protective effect of PCs still require further elucidation.

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