Source of cytotoxicity in a colloidal silver nanoparticle suspension.Nanotechnology. 2015 May 15; 26(19):195103.N
Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are increasingly used in a variety of applications because of their potential antimicrobial activity and their plasmonic and conductivity properties. In this study, we investigated the source of cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production on human dermal fibroblast and human lung cancer (A549) cell lines upon exposure to AgNP colloidal suspensions prepared with the simplest and most commonly used Lee–Meisel method with a variety of reaction times and the concentrations of the reducing agent. The AgNPs synthesized with shorter reaction times were more cytotoxic and genotoxic due to the presence of a few nanometer-sized AgNP seeds. The suspensions prepared with an increased citrate concentration were not cytotoxic, but they induced more ROS generation on A549 cells due to the high citrate concentration. The genotoxicity of the suspension decreased significantly at the higher citrate concentrations. The analysis of both transmission electron microscopy images from the dried droplet areas of the colloidal suspensions and toxicity data indicated that the AgNP seeds were the major source of toxicity. The completion of the nucleation step and the formation of larger AgNPs effectively decreased the toxicity.