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Responses of intestinal virome to silver nanoparticles: safety assessment by classical virology, whole-genome sequencing and bioinformatics approaches

Authors Gokulan K, Bekele AZ, Drake KL, Khare S

Received 3 January 2018

Accepted for publication 3 March 2018

Published 16 May 2018 Volume 2018:13 Pages 2857—2867


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Yu Mi

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas J Webster

Kuppan Gokulan,1,* Aschalew Z Bekele,1,* Kenneth L Drake,2 Sangeeta Khare1

1Division of Microbiology, US Food and Drug Administration, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR, USA; 2Seralogix, Inc., Austin, TX, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Effects of silver nanoparticles (AgNP) on the intestinal virome/phage community are mostly unknown. The working hypothesis of this study was that the exposure of pharmaceutical/nanomedicine and other consumer-use material containing silver ions and nanoparticles to the gastrointestinal tract may result in disturbance of the beneficial gut viruses/phages.
Methods: This study assesses the impact of AgNP on the survival of individual bacteriophages using classical virology cultivation and electron microscopic techniques. Moreover, how the ingested AgNP may affect the intestinal virus/phages was investigated by conducting whole-genome sequencing (WGS).
Results: The viral cultivation methods showed minimal effect on selected viruses during short-term exposure (24 h) to 10 nm AgNP. However, long-term exposure (7 days) resulted in significant reduction in the viral/phage population. Data obtained from WGS were filtered and compared with a nonredundant viral database composed of the complete viral genomes from NCBI using KRAKEN (confidence scoring threshold of 0.5). To compare the relative differential changes, the sequence counts in each treatment group were normalized to account for differences in DNA sequencing library sizes. Bioinformatics techniques were developed to visualize the virome comparative changes in a phylogenic tree graph. The computed data revealed that AgNP had an impact on several intestinal bacteriophages that prey on bacterial genus Enterobacteria, Yersinia and Staphylococcus as host species. Moreover, there was an independent effect of nanoparticles and released ions.
Conclusion: Overall, this study reveals that the small-size AgNP could lead to perturbations of the gut microbial ecosystem, leading to the inactivation of resident phages that play an important role in influencing gastrointestinal health.

Keywords: bacteriophages, intestine, microbiome, nanoparticle, virome, WGS, intestinal content, silver nanoparticles

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