An Integrated In Vitro–In Silico Approach for Silver Nanoparticle Dosimetry in Cell Cultures

  • Daniele Poli
  • Giorgio Mattei
  • Nadia Ucciferri
  • Arti AhluwaliaEmail author
Original Article


Potential human and environmental hazards resulting from the exposure of living organisms to silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) have been the subject of intensive discussion in the last decade. Despite the growing use of Ag NPs in biomedical applications, a quantification of the toxic effects as a function of the total silver mass reaching cells (namely, target cell dose) is still needed. To provide a more accurate dose-response analysis, we propose a novel integrated approach combining well-established computational and experimental methodologies. We first used a particokinetic model (ISD3) for providing experimental validation of computed Ag NP sedimentation in static-cuvette experiments. After validation, ISD3 was employed to predict the total mass of silver reaching human endothelial cells and hepatocytes cultured in 96 well plates. Cell viability measured after 24 h of culture was then related to this target cell dose. Our results show that the dose perceived by the cell monolayer after 24 h of exposure is around 85% lower than the administered nominal media concentration. Therefore, accurate dosimetry considering particle characteristics and experimental conditions (e.g., time, size and shape of wells) should be employed for better interpreting effects induced by the amount of silver reaching cells.


Particokinetic model Diffusion Dissolution Sedimentation Ag nanoparticles 



The work leading to this paper has received funding from the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 760813 (PATROLS).

Author Contributions

DP analyzed the data. NU performed experiments. DP, GM and AA wrote the paper and interpreted the data. DP and AA edited and prepared the final layout. All authors gave final approval of the paper.


The authors have no relevant interests to disclose.

Data Availability

Data are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Supplementary material

10439_2020_2449_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (261 kb)
Supplementary material (PDF 258 kb)


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center E. PiaggioUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Information EngineeringUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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