Silver and Histone Modifications

  • Yuko IbukiEmail author
Reference work entry


Silver (Ag) is used in a wide range of industries due to its antibacterial properties. The daily intake of Ag from the diet is estimated to be approximately 7 μg per person, and this is predicted to increase due to artificial treatments in food production chains and drinking water. Colloidal Ag and nano-sized Ag (AgNPs) have recently been used in dietary supplements and food packaging materials, respectively, and concerns have been raised over their safety. Ag is regarded as a safe metal; however, in vitro experiments recently revealed the genotoxicity of AgNPs. The toxic effects of AgNPs have mainly been attributed to the binding of released Ag ions with functional proteins and the formation of reactive oxygen species. Post-translational modifications in histones have been linked to a number of biological and toxicological processes as well as diseases, and carcinogenic metals are known to alter histone modifications, leading to changes in gene expression. Although few Ag-induced histone modifications have been reported to date, we demonstrated that AgNPs induced the phosphorylation of histone H2AX at serine 139 based on DNA damage and the phosphorylation of histone H3 at serine 10. In this review, these histone modifications are mainly introduced with other related modifications. Histone modifications have been suggested to change the chromatin structure, followed by alterations in the formation and repair of DNA damage. These changes may play a role in the enhanced genotoxicity and carcinogenicity of Ag when it is coexposed with other genotoxic factors.


Silver Nanoparticles Disinfection Drinking water Food packaging Histone Phosphorylation Acetylation Chromatin DNA damage Ultraviolet rays 

List of Abbreviations


Double-strand breaks




Histone deacetylases


HDAC inhibitor


Nano-sized Ag


No observable adverse effect level


Phosphorylation of histone H2AX


Phosphorylation of histone H3 at serine 10


Reactive oxygen species




Sodium butyrate




World Health Organization


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Division of Nutritional and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ShizuokaShizuokaJapan

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