Influence of particle size on persistence and clearance of aerosolized silver nanoparticles in the rat lung

Donald S. Anderson, Esther S. Patchin, Rona M. Silva, Dale L. Uyeminami, Arjun Sharmah, Ting Guo, Gautom K. Das, Jared M. Brown, Jonathan Shannahan, Terry Gordon, Lung Chi Chen, Kent E Pinkerton, Laura S. Van Winkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The growing use of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) in consumer products raises concerns about potential health effects. This study investigated the persistence and clearance of 2 different size AgNPs (20 and 110nm) delivered to rats by single nose-only aerosol exposures (6h) of 7.2 and 5.4mg/m3, respectively. Rat lung tissue was assessed for silver accumulations using inductivelycoupled plasmamass spectrometry (ICP-MS), autometallography, and enhanced dark field microscopy. Involvement of tissue macrophages was assessed by scoring of silver staining in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Silver was abundant in most macrophages at 1 day post-exposure. The group exposed to 20nm AgNP had the greatest number of silver positive BALF macrophages at 56 days post-exposure. While there was a significant decrease in the amount of silver in lung tissue at 56 days post-exposure compared with 1 day following exposure, at least 33% of the initial delivered dose was still present for both AgNPs. Regardless of particle size, silver was predominantly localized within the terminal bronchial/alveolar duct junction region of the lung associated with extracellularmatrix and within epithelial cells. Inhalation of both 20 and 110nmAgNPs resulted in a persistence of silver in the lung at 56 days post-exposure and local deposition as well as accumulation of silver at the terminal bronchiole alveolar duct junction. Further the smaller particles, 20nmAgNP, produced a greater silver burden in BALF macrophages as well as greater persistence of silver positive macrophages at later timepoints (21 and 56 days).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-381
Number of pages16
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Engineered nanomaterials
  • Inhalation
  • Inhaled
  • Lung
  • Macrophage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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