Lack of Detectable Direct Effects of Silver and Silver Nanoparticles on Mitochondria in Mouse Hepatocytes.
Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are well-proven antimicrobial nanomaterials, yet little is elucidated regarding the mechanism underlying cytotoxicity induced by these nanoparticles. Here, we tested the hypothesis that mitochondria are primary intracellular targets of two AgNPs and silver ions in mouse hepatocytes (AML12) cultured in glucose- and galactose-based media. AML12 cells were more sensitive to mitochondrial uncoupling when grown with galactose rather than glucose. However, 24 h treatments with 15 nm AgNPs and 6 nm GA-AgNPs (5 and 10 μg/mL) and AgNO3 (1 and 3 μg/mL), concentrations that resulted in either 10 or 30% cytotoxicity, failed to cause more toxicity to AML12 cells grown on galactose than glucose. Furthermore, colocalization analysis and subcellular Ag quantification did not show any enrichment of silver content in mitochondria in either medium. Finally, the effects of the same exposures on mitochondrial respiration were mild or undetectable, a result inconsistent with mitochondrial toxicity causing cell death. Our results suggest that neither ionic Ag nor the AgNPs that we tested specifically target mitochondria and are inconsistent with mitochondrial dysfunction being the primary cause of cell death after Ag exposure under these conditions.