Analysis of cytotoxic effects of silver nanoclusters on human peripheral blood mononuclear cells 'in vitro'

Sandra Teresa Orta-García, Germán Plascencia-Villa, Angeles Catalina Ochoa-Martínez, Tania Ruiz-Vera, Francisco Javier Pérez-Vázquez, J. Jesús Velázquez-Salazar, Miguel José Yacamán, Hugo Ricardo Navarro-Contreras, Iván N. Pérez-Maldonado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The antimicrobial properties of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) have made these particles one of the most used nanomaterials in consumer products. Therefore, an understanding of the interactions (unwanted toxicity) between nanoparticles and human cells is of significant interest. The aim of this study was to assess the in vitro cytotoxicity effects of silver nanoclusters (AgNC, < 2nm diameter) on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Using flow cytometry and comet assay methods, we demonstrate that exposure of PBMC to AgNC induced intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, DNA damage and apoptosis at 3, 6 and 12h, with a dose-dependent response (0.1, 1, 3, 5 and 30μgml-1). Advanced electron microscopy imaging of complete and ultrathin-sections of PBMC confirmed the cytotoxic effects and cell damage caused by AgNC. The present study showed that AgNC produced without coating agents induced significant cytotoxic effects on PBMC owing to their high aspect ratio and active surface area, even at much lower concentrations (<1μgml-1) than those applied in previous studies, resembling what would occur under real exposure conditions to nanosilver-functionalized consumer products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1189-1199
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Toxicology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Comet assay
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Nanoparticles
  • Oxidative stress
  • PBMC
  • Silver nanoclusters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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