Back to Journals » International Journal of Nanomedicine » Volume 14

Size-dependent cellular uptake and localization profiles of silver nanoparticles

Authors Wu M, Guo H, Liu L, Liu Y, Xie L

Received 14 January 2019

Accepted for publication 3 May 2019

Published 7 June 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 4247—4259


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Mian Wang

Meiyu Wu,1,2 Hongbo Guo,3 Lin Liu,1,2 Ying Liu,2,3 Liming Xie1,2,4

1CAS Key Laboratory of Standardization and Measurement for Nanotechnology, Center for Excellence in Nanoscience, National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, Beijing 100190, People’s Republic of China; 2NCNST-NIFDC Joint Laboratory for Measurement and Evaluation of Nanomaterials in Medical Applications, National Center for Nano Science and Technology, Beijing 100190, People’s Republic of China; 3CAS Key Laboratory for Biological Effects of Nanomaterials and Nano safety, CAS Center for Excellence in Nanoscience, National Center for Nano Science and Technology, Beijing 100190, People’s Republic of China; 4University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, People’s Republic of China

Purpose: Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) have been widely applied in various fields as excellent antibacterial reagents over the past decades. Although the particle size is considered as the most crucial factor influencing cellular uptake, transportation, and accumulation behaviors, there are still many controversies regarding the correlation between size and uptake of AgNPs. In this study, size-dependent cellular uptake of AgNPs with different diameters was investigated in B16 cells.
Methods: The uptake of AgNPs was investigated by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and transmission electron microscopic (TEM) imaging in B16 cells.
Results: Twenty nanometer and 100 nm AgNPs had the lowest and highest uptake efficiency at both 12 hours and 24 hours, respectively. Smaller AgNPs crossed the plasma membrane faster with uniform distribution: 5 nm AgNPs were detected in both cytoplasm and nucleus at 0.5 hours after incubation. Larger AgNPs were extremely difficult to migrate: 100 nm AgNPs were detected in the nucleus at 12 hours after incubation. Internalization of AgNPs was directly observed, mainly within membrane-bound structures, such as intracellular vesicles and late endosomes. The uptake of all four-sized AgNPs (5 nm, 20 nm, 50 nm, 100 nm) decreased significantly after the pre-treatment with chlorpromazine hydrochloride, which can specifically inhibit the clathrin-mediated endocytosis. The internalization efficiencies of AgNPs (5 nm, 20 nm, 50 nm) were markedly reduced by methyl-β-cyclodextrin, a specific caveolin-mediated endocytosis inhibitor, whereas 5-(N-ethyl-N-isopropyl) amiloride as an inhibitor of macropinocytosis inhibited the uptake of larger sizes of AgNPs (50 nm and 100 nm).
Conclusion: The results suggest that the size of AgNPs can not only affect the efficiency of cellular uptake, but also the type of endocytosis. The clathrin-mediated endocytosis may be the most common endocytic pathway for AgNPs in B16 cells, and AgNPs at each size were likely to enter cells by a major internalization pathway.

Keywords: silver nanoparticles, size-dependence, cellular uptake, B16 cells

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]