Disentangling the effects of polymer coatings on silver nanoparticle agglomeration, dissolution, and toxicity to determine mechanisms of nanotoxicity

  • Justin M. Zook
  • Melissa D. Halter
  • Danielle Cleveland
  • Stephen E. Long
Research Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11051-012-1165-1

Cite this article as:
Zook, J.M., Halter, M.D., Cleveland, D. et al. J Nanopart Res (2012) 14: 1165. doi:10.1007/s11051-012-1165-1

Abstract

Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are frequently coated with a variety of polymers, which may affect various interdependent mechanisms of toxicity or antimicrobial action, including agglomeration and dissolution rates. Here, we systematically measure how citrate, dextran, 5 and 20 kDa poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), and poly(vinyl pyrrolidone) coatings affect AgNP agglomeration, dissolution, and toxicity. In addition, to disentangle the coatings’ effects on agglomeration from their other effects, we produce multiple stable agglomerate sizes of several of the coated ~23 nm AgNPs ranging from singly-dispersed to mean agglomerate sizes of several hundred nanometers. These dispersions allow us to independently study the effects of agglomeration and polymer coating on dissolution rate and hemolytic toxicity. We find that both hemolytic toxicity and dissolution rate are highest for the 5 kDa PEG coating, and toxicity and dissolution rate decrease significantly with increasing agglomerate size independent of coating. This correlation between toxicity and dissolution rate suggests that both polymer coating and agglomeration may affect hemolytic toxicity largely through their effects on dissolution. Because both the AgNP dissolution rate and hemolysis decrease only moderately compared to the large increases in agglomerate size, AgNPs’ hemolytic toxicity may be caused by their large surface area and consequently high dissolution rate, rather than from other size-specific effects. At the silver concentrations used in this work, silver dissolved from AgNPs is expected to be primarily in the form of AgCl NPs, which are therefore more likely than Ag+ ions to be the primary drivers of hemolytic toxicity. In addition, all AgNPs we tested are much more toxic to horse red blood cells than sheep red blood cells, highlighting the complexity of toxic responses and the need to test toxicity in multiple biological systems.

Keywords

AggregationHemolysisNanosilverSilver colloidDissolution

Supplementary material

11051_2012_1165_MOESM1_ESM.doc (146 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 146 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin M. Zook
    • 1
  • Melissa D. Halter
    • 1
  • Danielle Cleveland
    • 1
  • Stephen E. Long
    • 1
  1. 1.Material Measurement LaboratoryNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA