Transformation and cytotoxicity of surface-modified silver nanoparticles undergoing long-term aging

Chengfang Pang, Panhong Zhang, Yunsong Mu, Jingzheng Ren, Bin Zhao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are constituents of many consumer products, but the future of their production depends on ensuring safety. The stability of AgNPs in various physiological solutions and aging in storage may affect the accuracy of predicted nanoparticle toxicity. The goal of this study was to simulate the transformation of AgNPs in different media representatives to the life cycle in the environment and to identify their toxicity to Hepa1c1c7 cells in a long-term aging process. Citrate AgNPs coated with citrate, polyethylene glycol (PEG), polyvinylvpyrolidone (PVP), and branched polyethyleneimine (BPEI) were studied. Our results show that the exposure media had a significant impact on the transformation of AgNPs. Citrate-coated AgNPs showed significant aggregation in phosphate-buffered saline. The aging of AgNPs in optimal storage showed that the charge-stabilized particles (citrate) were more unstable, with significant aggregation and shape changes, than sterically stabilized particles (PEG AgNPs, PVP AgNPs). The BPEI AgNPs showed the highest dissolution of AgNPs, which induced significantly increased toxicity to Hepa1c1c7 cells. Overall, our findings showed that storage and media of AgNPs influenced the transformation of AgNPs and that the resulting changes in the AgNPs’ physicochemical properties influenced their toxicity. Our study contributes to the understanding of AgNPs’ transformations under realistic exposure scenarios and increasing the predictability of risk assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2255
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2020


  • Aging
  • Nanoparticle transformation
  • Silver nanoparticles
  • Surface-modified nanoparticles
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)

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