Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 92, Issue 4, pp 1393–1405 | Cite as

Tissue distribution of gold and silver after subacute intravenous injection of co-administered gold and silver nanoparticles of similar sizes

  • Ji Hyun Lee
  • Jae Hyuck Sung
  • Hyun Ryol Ryu
  • Kyung Seuk Song
  • Nam Woong Song
  • Hyun Min Park
  • Beom Soo Shin
  • Kangho Ahn
  • Mary Gulumian
  • Elaine M. Faustman
  • Il Je YuEmail author
Inorganic Compounds


Gold (AuNPs, 12.8 nm) and silver nanoparticles (AgNPs, 10 nm), mixed or separate, were injected into the caudal vein of male Sprague–Dawley rats for 4 weeks. The rats were allowed to recover for further 4 weeks to examine the differences in AuNP/AgNP tissue distribution and clearance. The size distribution of injected AuNPs and AgNPs were not statistically different. The dose groups (five males per group for the administration and three males for the recovery) consisted of seven divisions, i.e., control, AgNPs (with a low dose of 10 µg/kg/day, and, a high dose of 100 µg/kg/day), AuNPs (with a low dose of 10 µg/kg/day, and, a high dose of 100 µg/kg/day), as well as mixed AgNPs/AuNPs (with a low dose of 10/10 µg/kg/day, and a high dose of 100/100 µg/kg/day). The AgNPs accumulated in a dose-dependent manner in the liver, spleen, kidneys, lung, brain, testis or blood. Au concentration increased also in a dose-dependent manner in the liver, kidneys, spleen and lungs, but not in the brain, testis and blood. Ag concentration in the tissues increased dose-dependently after 4 weeks of AgNP/AuNP mixed administration, but to a much lower extent than those observed when they were administered separately. Ag concentration in the tissues after 4 weeks of AgNP/AuNP mixed administration cleared dose-dependently after 4 weeks of recovery. Au concentration in the tissues increased dose-dependently after 4 weeks of AgNp/AuNP mixed administration, while Au concentration in the tissues did not clear as seen in Ag after 4 weeks recovery. Au concentration showed biopersistency or accumulation in the liver, kidneys, spleen and brain of the 4 weeks of recovery. In conclusion, AgNPs and AuNPs showed different toxicokinetic properties and the mixed administration of AgNPs with AuNPs resulted in mutual reduction of their tissue distribution which appeared to be due to competitive inhibition. Furthermore, this subacute intravenous injection study has suggested that these nanoparticles were distributed to the organs in particulate instead of ionic forms.


Silver nanoparticles Gold nanoparticles Subacute intraveneous injection Co-administration Tissue distribution Toxicokinetics 



This research was supported by the NanoMaterial Technology Development Program (2014M3A7B6020163) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and the Industrial Technology Innovation Program (1005291, Development of highly usable nanomaterial inhalation toxicity testing system in commerce) through the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy and NIH/NIEHS Grants U19ES019545, P30ES007033 and EPA Grant RD83573801.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of this article.

Supplementary material

204_2018_2173_MOESM1_ESM.doc (576 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 576 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ji Hyun Lee
    • 1
  • Jae Hyuck Sung
    • 2
  • Hyun Ryol Ryu
    • 2
  • Kyung Seuk Song
    • 2
  • Nam Woong Song
    • 3
  • Hyun Min Park
    • 3
  • Beom Soo Shin
    • 4
  • Kangho Ahn
    • 5
  • Mary Gulumian
    • 6
    • 7
  • Elaine M. Faustman
    • 1
  • Il Je Yu
    • 8
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for Risk Analysis and Risk Communication, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Korea Conformity LaboratoriesIncheonKorea
  3. 3.Korea Research Institute of Standards and ScienceDaejeonKorea
  4. 4.School of PharmacySungkyunkwan UniversitySuwonKorea
  5. 5.Department of Mechanical EngineeringHanyang UniversityAnsanKorea
  6. 6.National Institute for Occupational HealthJohannesburgSouth Africa
  7. 7.Haematology and Molecular MedicineUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  8. 8.HCTm CO., LTDIcheonRepublic of Korea

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