Cytotoxicity, oxidative stress, apoptosis and the autophagic effects of silver nanoparticles in mouse embryonic fibroblasts

Yu Hsuan Lee, Fong Yu Cheng, Hui Wen Chiu, Jui Chen Tsai, Chun Yong Fang, Chun Wan Chen, Ying Jan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

276 Citations (Scopus)


With the advancement of nanotechnology, nanomaterials have been comprehensively applied in our modern society. However, the hazardous impacts of nanoscale particles on organisms have not yet been thoroughly clarified. Currently, there exist numerous approaches to perform toxicity tests, but common and reasonable bio-indicators for toxicity evaluations are lacking. In this study, we investigated the effects of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) on NIH 3T3 cells to explore the potential application of these nanoparticles in consumer products. Our results demonstrated that AgNPs were taken up by NIH 3T3 cells and localized within the intracellular endosomal compartments. Exposure to AgNPs is a potential source of oxidative stress, which leads to the induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), the up-regulation of Heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) expression, apoptosis and autophagy. Interestingly, AgNPs induced morphological and biochemical markers of autophagy in NIH 3T3 cells and induced autophagosome formation, as evidenced by transmission electron microscopic analysis, the formation of microtubule-associated protein-1 light chain-3 (LC3) puncta and the expression of LC3-II protein. Thus, autophagy activation may be a key player in the cellular response against nano-toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4706-4715
Number of pages10
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Cellular uptake
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Nanoparticle
  • ROS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Biophysics


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